Given the recent, historic World Series, I thought I'd start with the Baseball Joe books, of which my Grandpa had six. I read up on the Baseball Joe series and learned that Lester Chadwick was a pen name for Howard Roger Garis, a writer for the Stratemeyer Syndicate, whose writers also authored the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and a Bobbsey Twins books. I really enjoyed Mark Ahren's Baseball Joe piece found on booksonbaseball.com: "Baseball Joe was one of a group of fictional sports heroes, capable of not only winning games but also solving crimes and extolling virtue simultaneously." I'm intrigued. Ahrens also covered the conventions of the syndicate's books and the way series books like Baseball Joe were dismissed by school librarians and other adults as "unworthy trash."
The first Baseball Joe book was published in 1912 so several of the titles are now in the public domain and thus available for free in an ebook version. I'm going to preview Baseball Joe of the Silver Stars or The Rivals of Riverside, the first in the series, to see if it's appropriate for my ten year-old (not concerned it may be "unworthy trash" -- just want to check the reading level). He's a good sport and a good reader so I'd like him to read a Baseball Joe book for history's sake, and since I found the free ebook of Baseball Joe of the Silver Stars, I might see if I can talk my dad, my brothers, and my nephew into checking it out as well. Actually, I need to find out if my dad read his dad's copies of the Baseball Joe books when he was a boy (an eat-sleep-breathe baseball boy). Stay tuned.
The name Baseball Joe has extra resonance because of a hometown hero from where I grew up, Joe Nuxhall (aka "Hamilton Joe" and "the 'ol left-hander"), who pitched his first major league baseball game for the Cincinnati Reds as a fifteen year-old high schooler and went on to have a memorable career as the voice of the Reds.
Just to be clear, my Grandpa's books aren't going to end up on Ebay or the Amazon Marketplace.