Larry was a Damn Good Dawg.
November 21, 2011 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Larry Munson, the legendary voice of the Georgia Bulldogs, died yesterday at the age of 89.

Munson spent over four decades as the radio play-by-play announcer for the Georgia Bulldog Radio Network. To many Bulldog fans in rural Georgia, radio was the only way to experience a football game and Larry's growling calls and booming, gravelly voice are as tied to Georgia football as Uga and silver britches. He avoided any pretense of objectivity and was a rabid Georgia fan. Munson called 500 games.

Some famous calls:

"My God, a freshman!" during the first game of the legendary runningback Herschel Walker

"Belue to Scott" in the 1980 UGA-Florida game when a miraculous

"So we'll try to kick one a hundred thousand miles" calling Kevin Butler's 60-yard field goal to beat Clemson in 1984.

"We stepped on their face with a hobnail boot" when UGA beat Tennessee in the waning seconds in 2001.

And many more.

We'll miss you, Larry.
posted by robstercraw (15 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Fizz at 9:58 AM on November 21, 2011

I don't know Larry Munson, not being a Georgia fan, but I feel like we're really hitting the end of an age of beloved sports announcers who are barely being replaced with competence, let alone people that anyone feels affection for. My guess would be that the transition to televsion means that there's less perceived value to hiring a really good announcer and the rise of the ex-player announcers isn't really helping either. Also, since following the game on the radio is practically non-existent, most local accouncers have been replaced with national crews, who have less connection to the team and its fans.

This really just a long way of my saying that it's a shame that Woody Durham isn't calling Carolina games anymore.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:00 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

UA fan here, but Munson stood out as a great announcer in SEC College football, right up there with Eli Gold.

posted by RolandOfEld at 10:09 AM on November 21, 2011

Gator fan here, so you know how that goes, but Larry Munson was an institution. Bulgaroktonos is right about the day of the announcer tied so closely to the program being over (still love you Mick Hubert). And it's too bad. There's value in having a voice on the radio or on TV who knows the program inside and out as well as the old guard did.

And beyond all that, listen to the hobnail boot call and all the people in the background going crazy in the press box. What's not to love? RIP sir.
posted by penduluum at 10:11 AM on November 21, 2011


A couple weeks back, I ended up downtown later than expected and was faced with the choice of missing part of the Bears game or staying downtown through the end, until I realized that my phone had an NFL app, and low and behold, it had the option to listen to the game on it.

Even better, the radio listen app had the option to listen to a couple of different (generic, I assume) NFL feeds -- probably ESPN Radio, I suppose -- or the "Home" or "Away" announcers; I chose "Away" and there I was, on the train, listening to the normal Bears announcers, underground even.

While I marveled at the age we lived in, I also started worrying that choices like that are, I'm afraid, only around because of a by-gone age, and that the trade off eventually be a homogenized play-by-play style and that all sports coverage, but especially those over radio and "radio", will be lesser for it. For example, lack of objectivity in sports announcers is a feature, not a bug.

The other problem with technology is that listening to the Bears blow a 10 point lead going into half time meant I had to stop myself from swearing like a crazy person. In fact, at the commercial break, I made a phone call I could explain to the person on the other end that I was listening to the game in hopes of explaining, if not excusing, why I'd been so twitchy.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:11 AM on November 21, 2011

Wow. That's the passing of an era for sure. Scratch the Ugas for me, Larry.

posted by jquinby at 10:12 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

The thing about radio announcers, especially in small towns without much in the way of mass transit, is that they become tied to my experiences in the car, which is to say that they become impossible to disambiguate from my experiences of the city I am driving around while listening. My memories of growing up in Minnesota, or living in a small town west of Seattle, or even my life in Columbus are in many ways memories of listening to local guys. Their voices seep into my memories of weather and architecture.

I have an optimism that creating that for future versions of me will be important enough to local money that our legends will be replaced by new legends. To wit: I think there is a trend for national guys is to find one team that they work with away from the game of the week format; I suspect that, like most things, the corporate and generic feeds are less fun for them as well.

In any case, I am strangely hopeful, if that is the right word, that my son will also get to feel the particular and unreasonable sense of grief that comes from losing a beloved play-by-play voice.

Great post. RIP Larry Munson (and Dave Niehaus, the recently-passed voice of the Seattle Mariners/my summers).
posted by Dromio_of_Columbus at 10:26 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seriously, God bless the homer announcers. I want a last-second home win to be barely intelligible, I want to hear papers getting thrown into the air, maybe with an expletive bleeped out, not a segue into some TV-show commercial or dry statistic because you don't know what else to say. And don't even get me started on mispronouncing players' names.

Rest in Peace, sir.
posted by resurrexit at 11:27 AM on November 21, 2011


I don't even like UGA, but I have great memories of hanging out with a UGA alumnus friend with the game on the TV (sound muted), Larry calling the game on the radio, and a bottle of bourbon and a bucket of boiled peanuts between us.

if you have to watch a UGA game, that was the way to do it.
posted by COD at 11:32 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's such a vast difference between the sportscasters who have their own identifiable voices, who couldn't in a million years be mistaken for anybody but themselves, and the ones with generic announcers' school voices who could be anybody. I really enjoy fall Saturdays when I can listen to the game on the radio while cleaning gutters or raking leaves in the sunshine. Larry was very (very!) identifiable as Larry; the fellow who does Bulldogs games now is one of those could-be-anybodys, and frankly I'd just as soon listen to play by play done by one of those robot ladies who say "The door in closing, please stand clear" on the airport shuttle. Georgia Tech also had one of those very identifiable, he's-an-institution announcers, Al Ceraldo, for what seems like a couple of hundred years. But GT lost Al some years back, and now Larry's gone, and I miss both of 'em. Guys like that have some nerve, thinking they're allowed to die.

By chance I captured the broadcasts of all the UGa games to mp3 during Larry's final full season doing play by play, and that was a great stroke of luck. Just make a note here, when I get home this evening make dam' sure those are backed up.
posted by jfuller at 11:40 AM on November 21, 2011

To Hell with Georgia.

And a respectful "."
posted by three blind mice at 12:36 PM on November 21, 2011

When I was a kid my folks used to mute the television and turn up the radio so we could hear Larry call the games. He taught me football.

posted by whimsicalnymph at 3:43 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

but I feel like we're really hitting the end of an age of beloved sports announcers who are barely being replaced with competence, let alone people that anyone feels affection for.

Co-effing-sign. NFC football will always, always be Pat Summerall and John Madden to me. I can't believe we have to spend the next umpteen years listening to Troy Aikman and Joe Freaking Buck.

On a local note (Cleveland Indians), The voices of the Tribe will always be Tom Hamilton, Mike Hegan, Herb Score, and Jack Corrigan. As of next season, only Hamilton will be left. Sorry Matt Underwood and Rick Manning, you just don't do it for me. You Rockies fans are lucky to have gotten Corrigan.

I have never heard Munson, but I've read a lot of glowing ink spilled over him by Lewis Grizzard. No doubt he is an icon and will be missed. RIP.

MAN, how I hate Joe Buck.
posted by mreleganza at 4:00 PM on November 21, 2011

I just listened to the Clemson field goal call and was instantly transported back to sitting in the front seat of my father's '79 Honda accord listening to that game because our living room radio (!!!) wouldn't pick up the game and my father was (and still is) a rabid Tigers fan. I still remember that few seconds of the crowd roaring and the silent announcer. My father merely hit the steering wheel and said, "Well, you can't blame 'em for that one," and turned off the ignition switch to go rake leaves or something.

I'd like to say that was a seminal moment in realizing what radio was for me (I've worked as an on air DJ on FM and AM), or that I learned something about sportsmanship, but the truth is: both me and my father have told that story a hundred times and the only thing that stuck with either of us was the announcer's silence. Today I learned his name and today I will wish him and his family well and note the silence once again.

(Hope him and Lewis have a fine time recalling all the old games. Give Catfish a scratch for me.)
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:41 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

One foty foh, uh uh, Magnolia Screet.
posted by WhitenoisE at 12:24 AM on November 22, 2011

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