This article, by an unknown author, is the earliest telling of the story of Norman Walker, Pancho Villa, and the World Series that I know of. It antedates by eleven years the story told by Oliver Gramling which you may read on Norman's own page. This tale is just as plausible as Gramling's. Could Norman himself be the source of the World Series story, either inventing it out of whole cloth or embellishing some minor incident?

The Villistas took Juárez early in the morning 15 Nov 1913, arriving in commandeered railway cars. The Philadelphia Athletics defeated the New York Giants, 4 games to 1, in a World Series played from 7 to 11 October.

An interesting sidelight to this story -- Ambrose Bierce was in Cd. Juárez with Villa at the time of its capture and disappeared shortly afterwards. Did he and Norman Walker cross paths? Could Walker have known anything more about Bierce's disappearance than is public knowledge?

After writing the above paragaph speculating about the Old Gringo, I discovered The Ambrose Bierce Site, which includes an article by Leon Day entitled My Hunt For Ambrose Bierce. The writer discusses biographer Carey McWilliams' investigation of Bierce's disappearance and drops this hint...

But when that battle [Torreón] happened, it was smothered in gringo journalists -- none of whom later remembered meeting Bierce. Most hadn't even heard that he was in Mexico. One of them, Norman Walker, wrote to McWilliams on 7 Jun 1930: "My information was that Bierce was shot in Chihuahua or at some point south of there early in 1914. The story I recall was that he was supposed to have too much information about Villa's army and was shot for this reason." Walker didn't remember where he heard this, but we'll see that it has a certain resemblance to some more detailed accounts.

It may or may not be fair of Day to lump Norman in with all the other "gringo journalists" who were on the scene for the battle of Torreón, since he seems to have been the Associated Press' principal correspondent during the Mexican Revolution. The story of the Battle of Torreón, published in 1962 by the State of Coahuila, is available in Spanish on the World Wide Web.

As a bonus for fans of Pancho Villa, we'll include, at the bottom of the article, the entire text of the famous Corrido de Francisco Villa, which is available from various sources on the internet.


Starting Rebellion at Inauguration Time Not Way Villa Would Have Done It, El Paso Thinks, Recalling How Pancho Once Delayed Attack Till After World's Series

EL PASO (Tex.) March 7. (AP)— While residents of El Paso watched developments across the border in Mexico with some anxiety today, some of them perceived that the leaders of the present military activities appear to have less regard for the publicity effect in the United States than did the late and notorious bandit chieftain, Francisco (Pancho) Villa.

The fact that the recent fireworks started almost coincidentally with the inauguration of President Hoover, to which American newspapers devoted their front pages, called forth comment, inasmuch as Villa once postponed an attack on Juarez, across the line from here, until after an American world's series of baseball games was completed.

It was in 1913 that this whimsical incident occurred. Villa was in Chihuahua (State) preparing an advance on Juarez, much desired because of its wealth-producing sources, including gambling concessions and customs collections. Norman Walker, an American newspaper man, knew Villa intimately and made his way to the chieftain's camp. Villa said he expected to attack on a certain day in October that coincided with the opening game of the world's series.

"Pancho," said Walker, "you are foolish to do that. Don't you know that the American newspapers will be filled with baseball and nobody will pay any attention to your battle? You can't run a war without publicity any more than you can run any other kind of a show."

Villa saw the point and laughed. In his emphatic and profane vernacular he agreed it was a good idea. He waited and some ten days later descended on the adobe village and took it.

Los Angeles Times 8 Mar 1929 page 2

Corrido de Francisco Villa

Aquí está Francisco Villa
con sus jefes y oficiales.
Es el que viene a ensillar
a las mulas federales.

Ora es cuando, colorados,
alístense a la pelea,
porque Villa y sus soldados
¡les quitaron la zalea!

Ya Llegó su amansador,
Pancho Villa el guerrillero,
¡pa' sacarlos de Torreón!
¡y quitarles hasta el cuero!

Los ricos con su dinero
recibieron una buena,
con los soldados de Urbina
y los de Maclovio Herrera.

Vuela, vuela, palomita,
vuela en todas las praderas,
y di que Villa ha venido
a hacerles echar carreras.

La justicia vencerá
se arruinará la ambición,
a castigar a toditos
Pancho Villa entró a Torreón.

Vuela, vuela, águila real,
lleva a Villa estos laureles,
que ha venido a derrotar
a Bravo y sus coroneles.

Ora, jijos del Mosquito,
que Villa tomó Torreón,
pa' quitarles lo maldito
a tanto mugre pelón.

¡Viva Villa y sus soldados!
¡Viva Herrera con su gente!
Ya han visto, gentes malvadas,
lo que pueden los valientes.

Ya con esta me despido,
por la Rosa de Castilla:
¡Aquí termina el corrido
del General Pancho Villa!