If you live in this state, it hardly matters whether you went to the University of Georgia or are a fan of the Bulldogs; I don’t have to explain who Larry Munson is. Nor do I have to recount his most famous calls from his four decades of radio broadcasts of Bulldog football; you’ve probably heard them somewhere along the way. Nor do I have to make a list of my favorite calls; they’re his most famous calls — Lindsay Scott, the hobnail boot, sugar falling from the sky, etc. — and they’re famous for a reason.
Just about every team has a broadcaster. And many of them are, as others have noted, more technically proficient than Munson was. But Munson was famous, beloved, cherished, because he was tradition personified.
Larry Munson became the Bulldogs’ play-by-play man before my parents had drivers licenses, and by the time he hung up his earphones, my firstborn was in the womb. In thousands upon thousands of other families of Georgia fans, he covered more generations than that. He was a bridge not just from Dooley to Goff to Donnan to Richt, not just from Walker to Hearst to Edwards to Moreno; for many, he was a bridge from great-grandfather to grandfather to father to son.
And a bridge, too, from an era where college football was a passionate tradition to an era where it’s every bit as big a business as professional sports leagues. Munson became an institution among Georgia fans not just because of his passion and ability to lay unforgettable soundtracks to moments of athletic greatness, as great as those were. Even at the relatively late date when I was growing up, televised games were not yet ubiquitous, and Munson’s broadcast was often the only way to keep up with a game in real time (before it was called “real time”) if you weren’t in the stadium. His voice played, yes, alongside muted TV sets and in the wireless headphones of Bulldogs fans at the games, but also in the background of a Saturday afternoon household project, from porches as men in red sweatshirts raked leaves, in cars as families took weekend drives, in living rooms as families stopped what they were doing and huddled to hear how the hunkering down would end.
So, it was in between all the great moments that he called and which all Georgia fans cherish — and even for a proud football program, a number of games will begin and end in between a Jacksonville miracle and the spectacle of sugar falling from the sky on the plains of Auburn — that he endeared himself to us: with overestimates of the size and speed of the opposing team, with pleadings against the clock to go faster or slower as the silver britches required, with that periodic question that lent a name to a white English bulldog named Uga VI, a.k.a. “Uga V’s Whatchagot Loran.”
You don’t get many chances in life to feel intimately connected to one of The Greats. This Thanksgiving week, we Bulldogs are thankful that, with Larry Munson, we were.
– By Kyle Wingfield