The word “legendary” wasn’t hyperbole; if ever a man lived up to that description, it was Larry Munson.
Blessed with the gift of painting vivid pictures with his gravelly voice, Munson shared that gift unstintingly with the people who depended on him — to the point of turning down the sound of televised games — to take them through the ups and downs of countless minutes of countless quarters of countless games.
For more than 40 years, from 1966 until 2008, Munson was the visceral connection between Bulldog fans and the team that they — and he — loved so dearly.
And what a connection it was. Who in the Bulldog Nation — and indeed, what sports fan anywhere on this planet — can forget Munson’s call of the Buck Belue to Lindsay Scott pass in the 1980 Georgia-Florida game? Describing the action on the field, Munson also recreated the scene in the booth as he broke a “metal steel chair,” and he finished the call with the still-echoing description of the elation of the Bulldog Nation, suggesting loudly, “Man, is there gonna be some property destroyed tonight!”
And there were other calls — dozens upon dozens of them — that sealed the Munson legend season after season.
There was “Look at the sugar falling out of the sky! Look at the sugar falling out of the sky!” as the clock ticked down on a Bulldog win in the 1982 Auburn game that gave Georgia another Southeastern Conference championship.
There was “My God, a freshman!” as Herschel Walker made his debut against Tennessee in 1980. There was “We just stepped on their face with a hobnailed boot and broke their nose,” as Georgia got a 26-24 win over Tennessee in 2001.
There was Munson — and it seemed as if there would always be Munson — carrying the team and its fans with the simple power and raw emotion of that unforgettable voice.
Sadly, that voice was stilled Sunday, as Munson succumbed to complications from pneumonia at his home in Athens. The news brought out other voices, great and small, to mark his passing.
Gov. Nathan Deal said Munson “lives on in immortality through highlight reels and the memories of the UGA faithful.”
UGA President Michael Adams noted that Munson was “loved by thousands of alumni and friends, and was completely devoted to this university.”
Fans took to the Internet upon hearing the news to share their grief at Munson’s death. Among the tributes to Munson posted on this newspaper’s website Monday was the simple declaration that “the picture he painted in your mind’s eye as you listened on the radio far exceeded the quality of any TV image. ... I ‘watched’ the scene in more color and with more excitement than I ever have with any TV broadcast.”
And that, quite simply, is the stuff of which legends are made.
Rest in peace, Larry, secure in the knowledge that your legend lives on.