The voice sounded like gravel being shoveled out of the bed of a pick-up. The ever-present pessimism made you think even Louisiana-Lafayette could score 45 on us. The emotional calls gave you eyes to see what your ears could only hear. And when it came time to call it a day, it was his voice we would all hear in our sleep.
Larry Munson, 89, passed away in his Athens, Georgia home last night from complications with pneumonia. Poetic really – the same lungs that gave life to Georgia football took life from the man we held so dear.
I loved Larry Munson because my grandfather did. Like so many Georgia fans in the 80s and 90s, my Pop Emmett wouldn’t put up with the TV color guys; he would turn the Bulldogs on TV and turn Munson up on the radio, giving me my first real exposure to the legendary voice. It was almost comical – you could see the Bulldogs dominating on the screen, but Munson’s voice would ring with concern, his words bleak against the bright TV images. Pop would rise and fall with Munson, always Munson, no matter what the TV showed us. If Larry was worried, so was Pop. That’s just the way it worked.
I met Munson once or twice while attending Georgia, and he was a nice man. We always joked about his student movie groups (they always seemed to have a lot of very attractive girls), but mostly whenever you talked about Munson, you talked about the great calls. And there were plenty: sugar falling from the sky at Auburn in ’82; hunker down defense in that same Auburn game; Kevin Butler’s 61-yard field goal against Clemson in ’84; the unbelievable comeback against Tech in ’97; the hobnail boot in ’01 at Knoxville; Michael Johnson’s famous catch against Auburn in ’02.
And, of course, the call that almost every Georgia fan has memorized:
Florida in a stand-up five, they may or may not blitz, they won’t. 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!
You just can’t read that paragraph without hearing Munson’s voice in your head. Or getting goosebumps.
We all know that getting older means losing pieces of your childhood one by one, some pieces small and only slightly significant, other pieces as personal as your own heart. I can’t overstate that for many a Georgia fan today, a truly gigantic piece of themselves has gone away. Munson may not have been a Bulldog by birth, but he became one by virtue of being our heart and soul every autumn Saturday for 42 years.
Rest in peace, Larry. I, and the whole of your Bulldawg nation, salute you.