By Alexis Stevens
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sports announcer Joe Walker couldn't see, but that didn't stop him from describing the action on the field.
"Just because I'm blind doesn't mean I didn't see Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to break Babe Ruth's record or see Muhammad Ali fight Jerry Quarry at the old City Auditorium," Walker told the AJC in 2000. "When I say I saw something, I did.
"It just wasn't the same way you saw something," Walker said. "Sight is just one of your five senses. I use the other four. If people can't understand that, they're the ones who are blind."
Walker, 81, died Tuesday at his Atlanta home. Walker's nephew, Allen Walker, told the AJC his uncle had suffered from Alzheimer's disease in recent years.
Family members said Joe Walker was an inspiration to everyone, including family members and those he came in contact with in the press box.
“You wouldn’t know that he was a blind person," Allen Walker said. "He didn’t let his handicap get in his way. ‘Whatever you do, be your best at it.' That’s what he instilled in me."
Joe Walker made up for his inability to see with an extraordinary ability to hear, his youngest child, also named Joe Walker, told the AJC.
"He could listen to the crack of the ball on the bat and know where it was going. It was uncanny," the younger Joe Walker said. "He never looked at his blindness as a handicap."
As a child, the younger Joe Walker remembers meeting professional sports players and coaches who all knew his dad on a first-name basis.
"He was dearly loved by a lot of players, owners, managers as well as just the average person," he said. "My dad was a big part of Atlanta."
Joe Walker is survived by four children.
Murray Brothers Funeral Home in Atlanta is in charge of funeral arrangements.