Talk of the Town - Major league fan September 23 2004

Dawsonville dweller Walter Victor treks intown to snap Braves games

-?It's hard remaining a relevant player in any game year after year. It's even harder when your chosen sport is often tainted with performance-enhancing supplements as a means to get to the top. Yet Walter Victor, 87, has been in the major leagues for 38 seasons as the Atlanta Braves photographer — and he's never once corked his camera.

A decorated WWII veteran, Victor is used to life on the move and still commutes from his four-acre property in Dawsonville to every Braves home game. At his home, two wraparound porches and a multitude of wicker chairs show off nearby Lake Rainbow. The doorbell, which rings "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," typically falls on the deaf, plastic ears of Victor's Braves bobble-head collection. He spends most of his time chasing fish on his dock, but maintains that he's never chased women — except for Ruth, his wife, whom he caught 62 years ago.

Creative Loafing: How long were you in the Army?

Victor: Four years, and I spent 33 months in combat. I was in the infantry outfit. I made the landing in Africa, in Sicily and in Normandy on D-Day. I have eight combat stars and two bronze stars.

When did you start taking pictures?

Well, I was in Germany waiting for the Russians and we had nothing to do, so there was a soldier who showed me how to take pictures. I kept a camera in my gas mask when we were burying bodies in Dachau, Germany.

What specifically do you do at Braves games?

I do anything I want to. I spend most of the game walking around taking pictures in the stands, but not action shots. If I see something interesting, I just take a picture.

You have nine photo-graphs in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Where else are your photographs?

Different magazines. I used to shoot the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. My wife came to the shoot with me and ruined it all.

What's your favorite part of the house?

Walter: That we don't owe any money on it!

Ruth: Everything here is memories, really. I didn't realize it was so decorated, I just think it's all piled in. It's things that people have given or sent us and if I find a place for it, I put it there.

How often do you still go fishing?

Walter: Whenever I want!

Ruth: Every morning, almost, he's down at the dock. He spends his time going up and down, doing his thing. I have been a widow all these years — between the war and his baseball!