As I sped through the darkness Saturday night racing toward my next assignment, I hit the seek button on the radio over and over again. I was hoping to hear a broadcast of the Alabama-Georgia game delivered by UGA’s snarling, growling play-by-play announcer, Larry Munson.
But that was not to be.
For the first time in more than 40 years, the University of Georgia took the field at Sanford Stadium in Athens without the legendary Munson behind the microphone. No wonder the Dawgs wore black.
Everybody knew this was coming. Though Larry had already stopped calling road games, I couldn’t imagine that he would bow out in the middle of a such a hopeful season at Georgia. Nobody could. But last Tuesday morning, there it was above the fold on the front page of the Atlanta Journal Constitution: MUNSON SIGNS OFF.
This unexpected development led me back to my own encounter with Larry. I had the pleasure of sitting in the booth with him as he called the Mississippi State-Georgia game back in 1997. No doubt he’s long since forgotten me, but Larry Munson is one interview I’ll never forget.
Tall and imposing, the Minnesota native was a curmudgeonly sort, prone to angst and melancholy. He fretted over his beloved Bulldogs and chewed their troubles like a dog with a bone. He was an unrepentant "homer" too. He wanted Georgia to win, and he didn’t care who knew it.
– He often rooted for his own team as he did against Florida in 1980: "Run Lindsay 25, 20, 15, 10…Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Well, I can’t believe it. 92 yards and Lindsay really got in a foot race…"
– He believed Georgia sometimes fielded a 12th man as they did when they beat Auburn in ’92: "We saved ourselves. No we didn’t. Old Lady Luck saved us. Old Lady Luck defeated them."
– And he wasn’t above rubbing it in when the ‘Dawgs won as they did against Tennessee in 2001: We stepped on their face with a hobnail boot and broke their nose. We just crushed their faces."
Love him or hate him (and there were plenty of both), Larry Munson was fun to listen to. You never knew what he might say or do. He was part of that generation of announcers who painted vibrant, colorful pictures with words. He brought us the game when we couldn’t be there and gave it his own unique twist. I’ll miss that.