By Associated Press
ATHENS — Larry Munson, whose growling delivery as the voice of the Georgia Bulldogs for nearly 43 years made him as celebrated as the players and coaches he covered, died on Nov. 20. He was 89.
A university statement said Munson died at his Athens home of complications from pneumonia, according to his son, Michael.
His death came one day after Georgia clinched a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game for the first time since 2005.
Munson’s broadcasting career covered more than 60 years and included a stint with the Atlanta Braves when they moved from Milwaukee in 1966. But he’ll always be remembered as the radio play-by-play announcer at Georgia, endearing himself to generations of fans with his quirky calls and unabashed partisanship for the Bulldogs.
“Hunker down!” he would implore when the team faced a crucial play.
Munson was as cherished between the hedges as Georgia’s other football icons, including coach Vince Dooley, Heisman Trophy-winning running back Herschel Walker and tough defensive coordinator Erk Russell.
Munson’s delivery was unique and often imitated. There were so many imitators among Georgia fans, that contests became common to determine the best impersonation.
He thrilled Georgia fans with calls such as “Run, Lindsay, run!” during Lindsay Scott’s 93-yard touchdown reception against Florida that kept the Bulldogs on course for the 1980 national championship.
After telling fans he broke through his steel chair during Scott’s run, Munson added that excited Georgia fans from Jacksonville to Jekyll Island, Ga., might follow his path.
“Man, is there gonna be some property destroyed tonight!” he exclaimed.
Occasionally, Munson’s exuberance landed him in trouble. He had to apologize after yelling “My God! A freshman!” when Walker ran over Tennessee defensive back Bill Bates for a touchdown in his first college game.
After a 1982 win over Auburn sent Georgia to the Sugar Bowl, Munson’s memorable line was “Look at the sugar falling out of the sky!”
Munson’s death resonated beyond Georgia football. Two-time National League MVP Dale Murphy, who spent the bulk of his baseball career with the Braves, tweeted Sunday night: “Saw that Larry Munson passed away, voice of the Georgia football… thankful to have lived in ATL and hear him call the games, great memories.”
Indeed, Munson never hid his allegiance to the Bulldogs, part of a generation of play-by-play announcers who saw no reason to pass themselves off as unbiased. He skipped road games in 2007 except for Georgia Tech, just a 75-mile drive from Athens. Munson had surgery to remove blood clots from his brain several months before the ’08 season, but returned to work Georgia’s first two home games. Then, he suddenly retired, shortly before his 86th birthday.
“It caught me by great surprise,” said Loran Smith, Munson’s longtime sideline reporter and host of Georgia’s pregame show.
“He’s like a folk hero. He has that special style people love and relate to,” then-Georgia coach Vince Dooley said during the 1990s after retiring as football coach.
Munson, a native of Minneapolis, was an alumnus of Moorhead State Teachers College. After World War II, he used his military discharge pay to enroll in a broadcasting school in his hometown. He went through 10 weeks of training and landed his first radio job at a station in Devil’s Lake, N.D.