Missing Larry Munson

One week ago, while we were at Disney World, I received the news that we lost a true legend of Georgia Bulldogs football — legendary radio announcer Larry Munson. He was 89, and he passed away from complications from pneumonia.

Munson came to UGA in 1967. He was already in his forties and in the midst of an accomplished career in broadcasting. It took him a few years to get the hang of loving the Dawgs, but once he did he became a true “homer,” rooting on the team he was calling the game for.

Munson’s calls have become the stuff of legend. Many Georgia fans can recite them by heart:

  • Hunker down, you guys! If you didn’t hear me, you guys, hunker down!…I know I’m asking a lot, you guys, but hunker it down one more time!
  • We hand it off to Herschel, there’s a hole….5….10…12, he’s running over people! Oh, you Herschel Walker!
  • Look at the sugar falling out of the sky!
  • So we’ll try to kick one a hundred thousand miles. We’re holding it on our own 49-and-a-half … gonna try to kick it sixty yards plus a foot-and-a-half … and Butler kicked a long one … a long one …  I can’t believe what he did! This is ungodly!
  • We just stepped on their face with a hobnailed boot and broke their nose! We just crushed their face!

And my personal favorite:

  • Buck back. Third down on the 8. In trouble. Got a block behind him. Going to throw on the run. Complete to the 25, to the 30. Lindsay Scott 35, 40. Lindsay Scott 45, 50, 45, 40. Run Lindsay! Twenty-five, 20, 15, 10, 5. Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! … Well, I can’t believe it. 92 yards and Lindsay really got in a footrace, I broke my chair, I came right through a chair, a metal STEEL chair with about a five inch cushion … Do you know what is gonna happen here tonight? And up at St. Simons and Jekyll Island and all those places where all those Dawg people have got those condominiums for four days? MAN, is there gonna be some property destroyed tonight! 26 to 21, Dawgs on top! We were gone. I gave up, you did too. We were out of it and gone. Miracle!

Larry Munson retired in 2008 at the age of 86. There is no one anywhere close to Munson in the pantheon of college football radio announcers. As much as I love Scott Howard, Georgia’s current announcer and one heck of a “homer” himself, he’ll never reach the level of excellence that Munson did.

I had the privilege of meeting Larry Munson on a few occasions. When I was working for BellSouth Mobility in their Athens office, they brought him out for a couple of autograph sessions at the retail store in front of our office. When there wasn’t anyone in the store, they’d let us come out and talk to him. He was completely unpretentious, and he shared stories from his illustrious career.

In 2000, again when I was working for BellSouth in Athens, I was given a pair of tickets to the football banquet that December, and I took my brother.  It was an awkward time, as Coach Jim Donnan had been fired that week. Munson was at the banquet, and he’d had a bit too much to drink. He went around to every table, slapping every man there on the back and acting like he was best friend with everybody. Larry Munson was a true character.

Since Munson’s been old as long as I can remember, I often wondered how I’d react at his passing. Last Saturday in the Magic Kingdom, while the rest of my family was watching the Main Street Electrical Parade, I was looking at the tributes to him on Twitter, overcome with emotion. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Larry Munson was a one-of-a-kind man, and the Bulldog Nation misses him deeply.

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