ATLANTA — When Larry Munson first arrived at Georgia in 1966, he showed no signs of the trait that would make him as beloved as the coaches and players he described for millions of radio listeners.
Sure, he had that gravelly voice. But, no, he didn’t wear his red-and-black heart on his sleeve. It took time to develop that love for the Bulldogs, to grow so passionate about the team that he was, without a doubt, more than just their voice.
He was their biggest fan.
“Larry wasn’t like that when he came here,” longtime Georgia coach Vince Dooley said Monday. “He was good — very good — professionally. But he didn’t have that uniqueness right away. That developed over a period of time as he came to know and love the Georgia program and Georgia football and the Georgia people.
“Then,” Dooley added with a chuckle, “he became a homer.”
Munson, who was Georgia’s radio play-by-play announcer for nearly 43 years, died Sunday night at his home in Athens of complications from pneumonia. He was 89.
Known for calls such as “Run, Lindsay, run!” and blatant partisanship, Munson arrived at Georgia in 1966 and stayed through the first two games of the 2008 season. Then, with his health failing, he suddenly retired.
Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity called Munson a “once-in-a-lifetime treasure.”
Gov. Nathan Deal weighed in on Munson’s life, saying his voice “provided the gravelly, dramatic soundtrack” to Georgia football.
“Munson gave listeners so much more than a retelling of the events playing out on the field,” Deal said. “He connected with fans through a shared passion for the University of Georgia. His words captured the emotional highs and lows of his fellow Bulldog fans.”
A memorial service for Munson will be held sometime after the Dec. 3 SEC championship game, the school announced. In the meantime, fans set up impromptu memorials at famous landmarks around Athens, putting out candles, flowers — even a container of sugar.
Munson’s family asked that donations be made to a fund that awards an annual scholarship to a Georgia cheerleader, an appropriate way to honor the school’s greatest cheerleader.
“He was one of a kind,” Dooley said. “There will never be another one quite like him.”