Celebrating a UGA legend: Larry Munson at 89

Happy birthday, Larry! (Brand Sanderlin / AJC)

Happy birthday, Larry! (Brand Sanderlin / AJC)

Today’s Larry Munson’s 89th birthday! To mark the occasion, here’s a piece I wrote a couple of years ago about my favorite Munson calls. …

I remember when Larry Munson, who’d spent a season as part of the newly arrived Braves’ original broadcast team, first took over from Ed Thilenius as the voice of the Georgia Bulldogs.

Even as a ninth grader, I was already a Bulldog traditionalist, and like many fans, I found the gravelly, staccato bark of Munson took some getting used to after the smooth, mellow tones of Thilenius.

I didn’t dislike Munson. In fact, I felt he’d been wronged when he got crowded out of the Braves booth by the tremendous ego of Milo the Mouth. Still, I remember feeling that Munson came across on his early UGA broadcasts as something of an outsider.

For some reason, I recall the moment when Munson won me over and I finally considered him one of “us.” It was the 1968 game matching No. 5 Georgia with No. 12 Auburn for the SEC Championship. It wasn’t so much any specific call or turn of phrase; he just sounded so into the game, like it really mattered to him whether the Bulldogs won. From that time on, Munson was the man, as far as I was concerned.

By the late ’70s, fans had started quoting Munson calls, and then the Munson phenomenon really took off in the 1980s (”There goes Herschel!”) as we started getting audio and video compilations of his greatest moments. Eventually it reached the point where Munson became an icon even outside the Bulldog Nation. Hardly a week goes by during college football season that you don’t hear somebody on ESPN drop into a growl to imitate the great one.

Since it was announced this week that Munson is being inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame, it seemed like a good time to celebrate the Munson legacy.

It’s easy to pick the three greatest Munson calls of all time; most fans have them memorized: “Run, Lindsay” from the 1980 Florida game (including the end bit about breaking “a metal steel chair” and his “Man is there gonna to be some property destroyed tonight!” warning; the whole extended “Hunker down” scenario culminating with “Look at the sugar falling out of the sky” from the 1982 Auburn game; and, probably the all-time favorite, from the 2001 win in Knoxville: “We just stepped on their face with a hobnail boot and broke their nose!”

I asked a bunch of Dawg fans about their favorite Munson calls other than those three, and the ones most often cited are from the 1980 Tennessee game, the 1975 Florida game and the 1978 Kentucky game.

The Tennessee play, of course, introduced Herschel Walker to the Bulldog Nation. It went like this:

“Tennessee leading 15 to 2, the crowd roaring against Georgia trying to make them drop it so they can’t hear. We hand it off to Herschel, there’s a hole, 5, 10, 12, he’s running over people! Oh, you Herschel Walker! My God almighty, he ran right through two men, Herschel ran right over two men, they had him dead away inside the 9. Herschel Walker went 16 yards, he drove right over those orange shirts, just driving and running with those big thighs. My God, a freshman!”

The 1975 call of an 80-yard touchdown pass from Richard Appleby to Gene Washington, one of my favorites, was an early example of Munson’s penchant for completely off-the-wall analogies:

“Appleby, end around, he just stopped, planted his feet and threw it, and Washington caught it thinking of Montreal and the Olympics, and ran out of his shoes right down the middle 80 yards. Stadium rocking, stunned, the girders are bending now, look at the score.”

And the 1978 call of a late Rex Robinson field goal that beat the Wildcats was Munson at his simplest and was notable for the fact he never actually said the kick was good:

“Sixteen to 14, Kentucky, with eight seconds! The stadium’s standing. Naw, some of ’em are upside down, but they’re trying to stand. It’s gonna be held just inside the 19. It’s set down, he puts it up, it looks good, watch it, watch it … yeah yeah yeah yeah! He kicked the whatchamacallit out of it!”

Another early favorite of Andy Johnson fans is from the 1973 Georgia win over Tennessee:

“Georgia’s got a first down on the Tennessee 26, the stadium rocking, the stadium can’t believe it… Georgia is 8 and a half yards away, minute 17, minute 16, minute 15, second down on the 8 and a half. Andy’s gonna take it give it to Harrison …  Faked it! Andy Johnson! Touchdown Andy Johnson! Touchdown Andy Johnson! What a fake, they hit Harrison dead on the 9 and Andy bootlegged to the left and scored. My God Georgia beat Tennesee in Knoxville.”

And then there’s another call of a famous kick, Kevin Butler’s 60-yarder to break a tie with Clemson at Sanford Stadium in 1984:

“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 60 yards plus a foot and a half, and Butler kicks a long one, Butler kicks a long one … Oh my God! Oh My God! … The stadium is worse than bonkers. Eleven seconds … I can’t believe what he did. This is ungodly!”

Indeed. Great Munson memories. Any others that you’re particularly fond of?

156 comments Add your comment

Carlton

September 28th, 2011
12:09 pm

Carlton

September 28th, 2011
12:11 pm

The Sugar falling from the sky, the hobnailed boot, he’s running over people, Run Lindsey Run, and any of the “Oh my God, a touchdown in the corner” calls.

Damn good Dawg and Damn good human being. We’ll always be grateful Larry

DawginLex

September 28th, 2011
12:15 pm

Lots of good memories. Too many to list.

SSIgator is running late again I see. She must be at the Walmart picking up some tampons.

First “lady” I ever saw chew tobacco up here last weekend.

UGA Alumnus

September 28th, 2011
12:23 pm

SSIgator

September 28th, 2011
12:28 pm

DawginLex -

I see you are back in the game. I guess the Midol tablets worked out for you. Make sure your wife keeps a supply on hand for you.

Desert Fox

September 28th, 2011
12:31 pm

LM made listening to the game on radio more exciting than watching on TV. His colorful comments and play by play calling will never be duplicated. Like Herschel, there will never be another Larry Munson.

40 Watt

September 28th, 2011
12:33 pm

Best Wishes Larry…Thanks for so many great memories! I honestly think my heart condition comes from listening to Larry…and I would want it any other way…Go Dawgs!

SSIgator

September 28th, 2011
12:33 pm

“Celebrating a UGA legend: Larry Munson at 89″

Without a doubt, the finest individual ever associated with UGA. Listened to him since he started doing the broadcasts whenever I could. So many great memories of “Munson Moments” on the air. There will never be another like him.

Gdawg

September 28th, 2011
12:34 pm

in the middle of the drive on the hobnailed boot touchdown he pauses and for some reason and points out that the sun is shining brighlty now, one heck of a metaphor for that particular point in Richt’s tenure and classic Larry, always said the right thing at the right time.

Tony

September 28th, 2011
12:36 pm

Chill bumps were running down my spine as I was reading your piece. I could hear every word and feel the passion of Munson. Happy birthday Larry and thank you!

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

September 28th, 2011
12:41 pm

Miss the best playcaller of all time in any sport

Fridawg

September 28th, 2011
12:41 pm

The night the goalposts came down was a great call by the legend. I was a student climbing the hedges that night, and I love to listen to the call of the pandemonium. Looking back on that period sheds a new light on our recent struggles. 8 straight losses to Tennessee would be a terrible thought today.

SSIgator

September 28th, 2011
12:42 pm

Bill King -

True or false – Did Larry still only get paid $50.00 per game that he called, even at the very end?

Carl Gump

September 28th, 2011
12:45 pm

Larry is irreplacable,but – Damn! – we currently have the worst announcers ever in college football history. I know they’re DGDs but PPPPUUULLLLLEEEEAAAAAZZZEEEE! Eric is too close to the mic and Scott yells to much.

DawginLex

September 28th, 2011
12:47 pm

I’m wondering how long it will take this Saturday before

http://www.firemuschamp.com

cranks up after Bama beats them to death in Okefenokee South

I say by about 11:15 pm Saturday night, it will be up and running

Delbert D.

September 28th, 2011
12:48 pm

Best ever at what he did. He’s college football’s Walter Cronkite.

Bigdsel5556

September 28th, 2011
12:50 pm

Happy bday Munson. Wish you were still calling games. Scott Howard sometimes sounds like he’s rooting for the other team when they do something good. It gets a lil confusing. But he does a good job for the most part.

Hankie Aron

September 28th, 2011
12:50 pm

Agreed Carl Gump

Hankie Aron

September 28th, 2011
12:51 pm

When Larry Munson called a game it never sounded like a football game, more like a war with him calling all the shots as they happened

Mtn Dawg

September 28th, 2011
12:51 pm

Bill, you out did yourself. Great article that stirred up some great memories. Thanks.

es54

September 28th, 2011
12:53 pm

I know it wasn’t Munson who made the call, but that overtime “one and done” with in Tuscaloosa was an instant classic. Screaming on the radio doesn’t usually go over very well, but it just seemed right for that play. I was in the stands, in fact, that endzone when he caught it over his shoulder.
I cried.
It was so beautiful.
Go dawgs no matter what.
Class of 08′ and 10′

Pollyanna

September 28th, 2011
12:54 pm

Lowcountry Bulldawg September 28th, 2011 10:05 am

“Heck watching the Ole Miss game offensively I came away with it very underwhelmed again. CMR though does not have that mentality. rather than sitting on the ball like he did against Ole Miss. I understand why he didn’t do it against Nutt. Nutt would have been fired Monday if UGA layed the wood to them like they should have, but Richt once again backed it off to about 70%”

Are you out of your ever-loving mind ? You really think Mark Richt purposely settled for 5 field goals, and what ? Told Blair Walsh to what ? Miss them ? Told the punt return team to lay down ? Told the kick-off return team to – oh, just let them have the ball ? To throw the interception. Just snap it on the ground a couple of times ? Tell the WR to all drop the passes ? Tell the QB to just throw himself on the ground ? Yeah, that’s what happened. But, it was NOT because Mark Richt was trying to do that. Nimrod.

Hankie Aron

September 28th, 2011
12:55 pm

And when we made a field goal, it never just went through the uprights, it was always he “stuck it in there”

Lowcountry Bulldawg

September 28th, 2011
1:00 pm

Polly,

Wrong blog to copy and paste in and you wanna call names?

Anyway back eo Larry ignoring trolls..

Tony…much like you, read the blog, got chills and just reading the calls you can still here Larry clear as a bell making them. That is what a legend does. Makes those moments stand still in time for you.

Happy Birthday Larry!!!!

ARdawg

September 28th, 2011
1:02 pm

Back in the day, late 60’s very early 70’s, the Dawgs on TV was a very rare occasion in my part in the piney woods of the Okeefenokee. Munson and the radio was all we had. I was just a elementary school kid and Larry brought the game alive through a semi-local AM radio station. The reception would drift in and out and the reception itself svcked to high heaven but, the broadcast was pure quality of the day

Athens Dawg

September 28th, 2011
1:04 pm

We’re going to smack MSU upside the head

Dbalcer

September 28th, 2011
1:04 pm

Happy Birthday Larry and thanks for the memories.

Alphare

September 28th, 2011
1:09 pm

UGA has been spiraling downward since Larry retired. What happens if God takes him away from you guys? Coach Richt get fired?

Frank Lane

September 28th, 2011
1:12 pm

First time I ever got chill bumps reading. Thanks Larry. Happy Birthday, and thank you Bill.

SSIgator

September 28th, 2011
1:13 pm

The mighty Gators will roll this season. I would really like to catch hold of Mushamp’s scchlong.

Frank Lane

September 28th, 2011
1:13 pm

Alphare, even when Larry is gone, he will still be here.

ARdawg

September 28th, 2011
1:13 pm

Alphare

Obviously a Tech Fan. Can you taped glasses, pocket protectors wearing clown forget your intense jealousy and hatred of UGA for once and keep with the topic? You are morbid dude

Still@theBAR

September 28th, 2011
1:17 pm

Frank Lane
Does that mean the dawgs will lay Larry to Rest in the EndZone next to the Uga’s?

Murphy

September 28th, 2011
1:18 pm

Man I miss Munson on Saturdays!!! Never be another one like him-EVER!!! I would listen to a water polo game if Larry was calling it!!!!

Jeff

September 28th, 2011
1:20 pm

I always felt like one of his most underrated calls was in 2006 against GT. “Stafford looks pumps, throws…. touchdown, touchdown…. MASSAQUOI!” “We got 105 seconds to hold on. We’re too tired to hang on!”

I use to love when he said “Massaquoi!”

Still@theBAR

September 28th, 2011
1:21 pm

I am guessing there will be a Bust or Plaque or something special with Larry’s career in the EZ with the Uga’s

dogDAWG

September 28th, 2011
1:25 pm

God I miss hearing Larry!

onedawg

September 28th, 2011
1:26 pm

Great memories growing up listening to Larry with my Dad, hunkering down and sweating bullets to the very end sometimes. We were out of state, and many times in the 70s we had to go upstairs to get better reception on a portable radio. You know, hold the antenna … there it is, DON’T MOVE my Dad would say! Larry kept our hearts pumping good, that’s for sure. My Dad is not with us now, but oh how he LOVED listening to Larry make all those memorable calls. A legend indeed. God bless you with peace now Larry!

Alphare

September 28th, 2011
1:26 pm

ARdawg,

come on man, am I vicious in anyway? UGA going downward since Larry’s retirement is the truth, and God eventually takes all of us away, are you superstitious in any way?

Sandlapper

September 28th, 2011
1:32 pm

1993 vs. South Carolina is my favorite. Brandon Bennett over the top.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=is6Sthr2a5A

Cobb Dawg

September 28th, 2011
1:33 pm

How about some of the great punt returns for touchdown? Lindsay Scott vs. LSU in 1978, for instance, or almost anything involving Scott Woerner from 1980. Just the sound of him saying Woerner’s last name could give you chills: “Woerner!!!”

Dr. Phil

September 28th, 2011
1:33 pm

I recall when Munson was Milo Hamilton’s sidekick with the Braves. He didn’t get as excited as he did with the Bulldogs, but he was still a great color guy. The only great oldtimer still announcing is Vin Scully. Happy Birthday, Larry.

DawginLex

September 28th, 2011
1:39 pm

Munson was a good luck charm for the Falcons too

Still@theBAR

September 28th, 2011
1:41 pm

Nobody is a Good Luck Charm for the Falcons. The Falcons have always been bad and not much has changed that.

TK

September 28th, 2011
1:42 pm

“Chuck Carswell saved our fanny!!”

Jay

September 28th, 2011
1:43 pm

Ga Southern fan in Statesboro here. Been watching the Eagles since ‘85. I have recordings of many, many Eagle playoff and championship games but by far my favorite to watch is when Southern played at N. Iowa in ‘85 in the semis. That win sent us to our first title game and Larry is the play by play man on that broadcast. Truly a treasure to me.

Mark

September 28th, 2011
1:54 pm

I always associate the great Georgia wins with how Larry called it. Growing up, I was so in a hurry to get out of the stadium and back to the car so I could listen to his highlights. Still to this day, I get chill bumps and swell with emotion when I hear some of those calls that I have heard hundreds of times. They never get old!

Munson called the game like we would call it using we and they. Openly rooting for one clutch drive or desperate for a stop just like he was sitting next to you in the stands.

Get the picture now “Happy Birthday, Munson!”

Hank

September 28th, 2011
1:56 pm

Just turning the sound off on the TV and the radio up. Munson was awesome. His always making the other team sound way better than they were especially Vandy played us tough. He got as excited as the fans and that made the fans even more exicted, really miss hearing him on the radio.

Bacnbits78

September 28th, 2011
1:58 pm

Oh how I miss listening to Larry on the radio. My dad and I would be on our way home from soccer games and turn on Larry and the Dawgs. I can remember it like it was yesterday.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LARRY! THE BULLDAWG NATION DEFINITELY MISSES YOU OLD FRIEND! GO DAWGS!!

The Helmut guy

September 28th, 2011
2:00 pm

I would want to remind you that my little therapist threw you down the stairs so you could work at getting back to the top. To nobody’s surprise you did it with voice to spare.