Legendary Sports Announcer Joe Walker passes away at the age of 80

By WABE
Updated: June 24, 2011

In this 2000 file photo, radio journalist Joe Walker interviews Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal after the Braves swept the Dodgers. (photo) Atlanta Constitutional Journal

In this 2000 file photo, radio journalist Joe Walker interviews Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal after the Braves swept the Dodgers. (photo) Atlanta Constitutional Journal

- Legendary Radio Sports Announcer Joe Walker has died at the age of 80. Joe moved to Atlanta during the turbulent 1960′s. He battled a disability. He was blind and African American during the civil right movement but he never allowed his disability to stand in his way. Marjorie Coley talked with some Joe’s friends and colleagues.

Joe Walker was born in Miami in 1930. He grew up listening to the Yankees on the radio and he played blind baseball at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind.

Sports Reporter Nu-Bias Wilburn met Joe while he was still in college. Joe did the play by play at Clark Atlanta University.

“Joe would call those games and if you didn’t know any better you would swear Joe saw everything that happened,” said Wilburn.

Joe’s radio career spanned 40 years. He also hosted talk shows and very rarely missed an Atlanta Hawks game.

Arthur Trish of the Atlanta Hawks says he remembers meeting Joe 21 years ago on draft night in the NBA. Ironically, today is also draft day.

“Once I was introduced to him, he told me a little bit about his background, you sat in amazement that a guy who had a disability but didn’t use that disability as a crutch could do his job so effectively,” said Trish.

Joe not only covered the Hawks, he also covered falcons and braves games.

Steve Holman, the voice of Hawks says Joe had the ability to communicate despite his handicap.

“Even though Joe was blind he saw probably a lot more than most of us did. And that was probably true all the way through his life. He was able to take in things he couldn’t see and make people see them, through the radio,” said Holman.

Joe also spent time at radio stations in St. Louis, Dallas, Houston and New Orleans before ending up in Atlanta. Long time radio personality and radio station owner Mike Roberts says Joe had the ability to make you forget he was without sight.

“I would often see his sportscast describing what he saw or saying to the listeners did you see this and you actually, really forgot that Joe did not have sight,” said Roberts.

Joe especially loved the Braves. He and Bobby Cox had an interesting relationship. TV Sportscaster Samuel Crenshaw says he remembers Joe’s final question at almost every post Braves game interview with Bobby Cox.

“Bobby I got one more question for you. Ah, Joe what is it.

Can I have one of your cold beers. He’d say all heck Joe you know where they are go ahead back there and get you one. He’d crack up laughing.

Joe would turn around go right into Bobby’s cooler and get him a brew out,” said Crenshaw.

Funeral services are being handled by the Murray Brother’s Funeral home in Atlanta.