Folks who have moved to Georgia over a span of 40-something years would eventually find on their radios the Saturday broadcasts of University of Georgia football games. Often taken aback by his style of game-calling, they would ask, “Who is that guy?”
“He” was Larry Munson. And he was a legend.
In an age where college football announcers tried their best to sound like the national play-by-play guys, Munson was anything but that. He had a gravely voice, decidedly unpolished, one that was not above pleading for one more miracle, one more shot at the endzone, one more “hunkering down” when the game was on the line.
Three years ago, that trademark voice ended a 43-year career of being the voice for the Georgia Bulldogs. On Sunday, a bout with pneumonia permanently silenced it. Larry Munson was 89 years old.
For someone so indelibly linked to his beloved Dawgs and their fortunes on the field, it is fitting that those Bulldogs, whose season started so dismally with two losses, reeled off nine wins in a row and clinched the Southeastern Conference East Division championship — its first in six seasons — the day before he passed away.
There are no shortages of Munsonisms that have flown out over the airwaves over the years:
“Run, Lindsay, run!” as Lindsay Scott grabbed a short pass from Buck Belue against Florida and literally ran Georgia to a shot at the national championship it won in 1980. He followed that with, “We were gone. I’d gave up; you did, too. We were out of it and gone. Miracle!” An unfortunate casualty from that call: Munson’s chair, which he broke in the excitement;
“My God almighty, he ran right through two men, Herschel ran right over two men!” when Herschel Walker ran for a touchdown in UGA’s 16-15 win over Tennessee, the first game of Walker’s stellar career;
“Look at the sugar falling out of the sky!” when UGA clinched a Sugar Bowl berth in 1982;
“We saved ourselves. No we didn’t. Old Lady Luck saved us. Old Lady Luck has defeated them,” in UGA’s 1992 14-10 win against Auburn that ended with a defensive stand;
“We just stepped on their face with a hobnail boot and broke their nose!” in the Dawgs’ comeback win over Tennessee in 2001;
“Hunker down just one more time!” or a variation of that, more times than anyone can remember.
And along the way, he endeared himself in the hearts of countless listeners, many of whom would turn off the volume of their TV sets on Saturdays so they could hear Munson call the plays on their radios while they watched the action on TV. While Munson held other jobs in his lengthy career and UGA has had other game announcers, he will always be the voice of University of Georgia football.
When you look back at it, the Minnesota native — who every week seemed to squeeze in a reference to hunting — had a truly wonderful life. He lived to a ripe old age, and he spent nearly half of that long life doing a job that he truly loved.
How many of us, when it’s our time, would love to have that said about us?