Today, September 28th, is the 89th birthday of one Lawrence Harry "Larry" Munson. The Legendary Voice of the Bulldogs recently fell ill with a respiratory infection and so, we here at Dawg Sports would like to take today to wish him a happy birthday and a speedy recovery.
This is the first of three posts and will focus solely on our recollections of our favorite Larry Munson memories. We're not the only ones chiming in, either. We reached out to former players Rex Robinson and Verron Haynes and got their thoughts on what it's like to be immortalized by the man himself. The next post in today's festivities will go up at 11:00 AM and the final one will be posted at 1:00 PM so be sure to check back throughout the day and join in the celebration. Also, please feel free to share your favorite Larry Munson calls or memories in the comments section, and search for the hashtag #MunsonsBday to follow the updates on Twitter.
From T. Kyle King:
With all due respect to Ed Thilenius and his eleven-year tenure in the Georgia broadcast booth, "the voice of the Bulldogs," ever and always, will be Larry Munson, whose gravely delivery, trademark pessimism, unrepentant homerism, and memorable formulations define Red and Black football for generations of fans.
Amid the broken chairs, hobnailed boots, sucrose downpours, and on-again, off-again love affairs with the often fickle Lady Luck, my clearest Munson moment comes from the 1984 Clemson game, which was special because it occurred between the hedges in a game against a No. 2-ranked rival that was not televised, due to the Tigers' probation.
With typical Munsonian hyperbole, Larry set the stage for Kevin Butler's game-winning field goal attempt by growling, "So we'll try to kick one 100,000 miles. We're holding it on our own 49 and a half, gonna try to kick it 60 yards plus a foot and a half." When Butler put his foot into the ball, Munson's voice rose with the pigskin, painting with the excited tone of his voice a picture of the kick those of us who were not in Sanford Stadium could not see: "Butler kicked a long one, a long one. Oh, my God! Oh, my God! The stadium is worse than bonkers. . . . I can't believe what he did!"
The rest of us could, though, because Larry Munson, the voice of Georgia football, told us so. Happy birthday, Larry.
I've had so many memorable experiences with Larry Munson's voice going in the background, providing the soundtrack to hours of unbridled joy and frustrated despair. The most memorable, however, would have to be September 29, 2007. The Dawgs were playing at home against Ole Miss and my wife and I were sitting in labor and delivery at St. Mary's. The TV didn't pick up the channel the game was on, so my mom brought in a battery powered radio and we listened to Larry call the game as we waited for the baby to arrive. In the 4th quarter, with only a few minutes left in what wasn't even a particularly important or interesting game, my son was born. The first sound he heard on this Earth was the voice of Larry Munson.
Happy Birthday Larry! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you've done for the University, all the great calls and memories you've given us as fans, and for starting my son out as a Georgia Bulldog from birth.
My Munson story is from 1978. I used to work at the old Kroger on W. Broad Street in Athens, next to ABC package store. They always piped the radio of Georgia games over the store's intercom, but the audio was crappy. Anyway, it was a typically busy Saturday night, but I hid in the stockroom, listening to the game on an old transistor radio one of the stock clerks had blaring. Kentucky led the entire game, but Georgia roared back late and I was supposed to be bagging groceries up front. No one could find me as I was hidden in the back during the final drive of the game.
When Rex Robinson won it for us, and Larry finished yelling, "Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah!", I finally raced up to the front of the store. My night manager was not happy and asked me where I was. I said I was "packing bottles" (you know, back in the day when you returned your Coca Cola bottles for cash...someone had to pack that stuff up) and didn't know it was busy. I didn't care. That last drive was incredible and I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. Despite receiving quite the stern reprimand, I worked at that job for the next 7 years...but never regretted "hiding out" and listening to Larry's momentous call that night.
Rex Robinson's thoughts on being immortalized by Larry Munson:
Most announcers describe the moment. He MADE the moment. I'm glad I got a chance to thank him for making the KY kick memorable.
I very rarely have listened to Georgia games on the radio. I was very fortunate, however, that one such rare occasion was on 6 October 2001. I was driving back to Columbus from a conference at St. Simons. While meandering around South Georgia highways, avoiding the lull of the road we call Corridor Z, I listened to the entire Georgia-Tennessee game, the car radio relaying from station to station on the Georgia Bulldogs Radio Network with its serendipitously additional entertainment of local insurance agency ads. I've always been seduced by the brown roadsigns, and in 2001, I had not yet completed my quest to visit every site in the Georgia State Park system.
So when I had the opportunity to swing by Gen. Coffee State Park, I took it. Furthermore, I knew I needed to find a place to park to listen to the rest of the game, because the excitement threatened my ability to drive safely. As you know, we lost and regained the lead in the final minute of the game, securing the win on the famous "hobnail boot" play of Greene-to-Haynes. I listen and listen again to recordings of lots of Munson's calls, but that one takes me back to a specific place of pine trees, fishing lakes, and pure joy.
Verron Haynes' thoughts on being immortalized by Larry Munson:
To this date, the fact that I was involved as a key component in such a major play for the Bulldog nation is an honor. To top that off, Larry Munson recognizing my play as one of his all-time favorites, is just marvelous. Mr. Munson will forever reign as a Chief in commentating world and I am humbled to be a part of a memorable archive. No one else could have called the Hobnail boot play any better. He's a visionary!
I am praying for Larry and his family and anticipating his recovery. I wish an astounding man and even more marvelous 89th birthday. God Bless you Larry and I am sure I speak accurately for my fellow Bulldogs when I say, thank you for blessing us with talents over the years. You truly are the "Legendary Voice of the Georgia Bulldogs".
As a former Redcoat, most of my favorite Larry Munson calls happened while I was in college, mainly because I got to experience them live. However, I never got to hear them until at least days after the game had concluded. During my time in college (and forgive me for showing my age), I saw the Hobnail Boot play, Michael Johnson's catch at Auburn, Musa Smith carrying the team to victory by wearing down the clock at Alabama and watching the Georgia Dome come absolutely unglued after the blocked punt against Arkansas in the SEC Championship.
All that said, the moment when I knew Larry Munson was something special to behold was what I refer to as the "other" Florida game in 1997 (forgive the ads in the video...it's the only one I could find). I was undoubtedly excited by the outcome of the game, but it was Larry's exuberance that put me over the top. He was enjoying the victory just as much or more than the fans in the stands. He began smoking a cigar in the press box and didn't care that he wasn't supposed to because Georgia had just beat Florida, by God, and they were supposed to lose to the Gators by 20 points or more.
Larry is the Georgia fan's Georgia fan. He over-exaggerated our fears and downplayed our successes. He is the reason why I can't get a good night's sleep before we play Vanderbilt. For that, I want to say happy birthday, Larry. I hope it's a great one for the greatest voice the Bulldogs will ever hear.
I don't have a favorite call, however, what I love about what Larry did is how he was able to use his metaphors to bring you into the game. "Look at the sugar falling from the sky" is so much more eloquent and poetic way of saying "This win means we go to the Sugar Bowl." I have never heard another broadcaster bring in that kind of language. He also had a feel that this is radio, and things in football happen very dynamically, so he didnt try and X and O you to death, rather he gave you an basic idea of the play call and then used his inflection, color and metaphor to put you in the moment.
My favorite example was from a losing game where Larry said, "and the clock sticks out it's tounge and laughs at us." That makes it pretty clear without saying "we are down by two scores with 3 minutes to go in the 4th". No one else has come close to that.
I don't have specific favorite memory or call either, but as a child, for me Munson was the Georgia Bulldogs. Oh, sure, I knew that there were some men lining up on the field and trying to beat some other team senseless, but it really wasn't Georgia Bulldogs football unless Larry Munson's gravelly voice was narrating it to me. I had the privilege of actually attending many games as a child, but even then, I would always bring my radio to the stadium with me and listen to Munson's call of the game. I even found myself a few times after a big play thinking, "Dang, I wish this crowd would shut up so I can hear how Munson is calling this!"
People romanticize Keith Jackson's "Whoa Nellie!" or Brent Musberger's "You are looking live..." trademark phrases, but for me, there will never be any greater announcing moment than when Munson said before every game, "Ok... get the picture," followed by a monologue that actually painted a mental picture of the stadium, crowd, and teams for you.
Munson is a unique communicator, and an exceptional sports broadcaster. There will never be another like Larry Munson. Maybe there never should be.
Larry Munson is wholly responsible for my love of college football. I didn't grow up in a football household, and my high school was too small to field a team. When I got to Athens for college, it never even occurred to me to start paying attention. That all changed in my junior year when I started a job at a restaurant with a coworker who insisted on listening to the Bulldogs during Saturday shifts. Larry Munson would be agonizing over the game while I bussed tables, and, at first, none of it made any sense. "Power I?" "Shotgun?" "Eight men in the box?" I had no idea what any of it meant... but, man, that guy was telling compelling stories. "We" were doing this, while "they" tried to stop us. Every play came across like a chapter in some epic wartime novel in which I was increasingly personally invested.
After every game I would look up some of the terminology that he was using, and, as my understanding increased, Larry's broadcasts somehow became even more vivid and compelling. By the time David Greene hooked up with Michael Johnson to clinch our first SEC Eastern Division championship ("Snap to David Greene. There he goes in the corner again, and we jump up... TOUCHDOWN! OH GOD A TOUCHDOWN!"), I was hooked. Now I'm a certified college football junkie, and I owe every minute of enjoyment I've ever gotten out of the football to Larry Munson and his spectacular, singular style.
In conclusion, to know any Georgia football since 1966 is to associate it with a particular call by Larry Munson. For many generations, he's been the soundtrack of Georgia football, and when he retired, many fans retired the headsets they wore inside Sanford Stadium. It just wasn't the same, and it never will be.
Happy Birthday, Larry. We can only hope that sharing our memories with you has brought you half the joy you brought us through the years.