Georgia‚Äôs most treasured voice has been silenced.
Larry Munson, who retired as the play-by-play voice of the Bulldogs at the start of his 43rd season in 2008, died Sunday night at his Athens home with complications from pneumonia, his son, Michael, said through the university‚Äôs athletic department.
‚ÄúI can‚Äôt express enough of my deep feelings toward the Georgia football fans,‚Äù Munson said when he left the microphone for the final time after declining health. ‚ÄúI feel I owe them so much more than I can give. I‚Äôll remember all the great times with the Dogs and have the fondest wishes and good luck toward them all.‚Äù
Funeral arrangements for Munson, 89, had not been determined.
Munson‚Äôs more than 60-year career in broadcasting included stints at the University of Wyoming, Vanderbilt and with the Atlanta Braves. He also hosted a weekly fishing show for 23 years in Nashville, Tenn., and a winter fishing tournament off Highway 11 in Mansfield.
The son of a traveling insurance salesman, Munson grew up in Minnesota, but became a household name in these parts for his calls in his distinctive gravelly voice-with his unabashed favoritism for the Bulldogs.
Like the night when Herschel Walker‚Äôs legend was born at Tennessee in the 1980 national championship season.
‚ÄúWe hand it off to Herschel! There‚Äôs a hole! Five! 10! 12! He‚Äôs running over people! Oh, you Herschel Walker! … My God Almighty, he ran right through two men.‚Äù
Munson was born on Sept. 28, 1922, in Minneapolis. He was an alumnus of Moorhead State Teachers College in Moorhead, Minn. After World War II, he enrolled in broadcaster‚Äôs school back home, using his military discharge pay to enroll. His first gig was at a small radio station in Devils Lake, N.D.
His last and longest job is where he forever will be cherished.
‚ÄúLarry Munson has been synonymous with Georgia football for 43 years,‚Äù SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said when Munson retired. ‚ÄúThe way he articulated his passion for the Bulldogs in calling games is legendary in the Southeastern Conference. Larry‚Äôs career helped shape the importance that radio play-by-play voices have in college sports.‚Äù
Munson was recognized by the Georgia General Assembly in 1983, and 14 years later the same legislative body honored him with a proclamation celebrating his 50 years in broadcasting.
From Buck Belue to Lindsay Scott against Florida in 1980, and from David Greene to Michael Johnson against Auburn in 2002, Munson was there.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs like a folk hero,‚Äù longtime former Bulldogs coach Vince Dooley once said. ‚ÄúHe has that special style people love and relate to. I finally claimed him as one of the best after the ‚Äô78 season. He just shot straight up. But I‚Äôd come out of the hotel on Saturday mornings rested after a good night‚Äôs sleep, feeling good about the game, and run into Munson, and he‚Äôd say, ‚ÄòYou see how fast their receivers are? How we going to run with them?‚Äô I‚Äôd say, ‚ÄòMunson get away from me.‚Äô The man is a worrier. He drove me crazy as a coach.‚Äù
Munson told Georgia fans about Sugar falling from the sky, a hobnailed boot, and they hunkered down with him for generations from Dooley to Ray Goff to Jim Donnan to Mark Richt.
Now, his lifetime of calls will live on without him.