One of college sports most enduring figures decided to call it a career Monday when Larry Munson, the legendary voice of the Georgia Bulldogs announced his retirement, effective immediately.
"I can't express enough my deep feelings toward the Georgia football fans," Munson said in a statement. "They have been so friendly especially during this most recent period of time. I feel I owe them so much more than I can give. I'll remember all the great times with the Dogs and have the fondest wishes and good luck toward them all."
Munson had only broadcast two games for the Bulldogs this fall, the season-opener against Georgia Southern and the Week 2 contest against Central Michigan. Poor health had caused him not to travel to any road games since last fall.
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Scott Howard and Eric Zeier will finish out the 2008 season doing both the Bulldogs home and away games.
"Larry made the decision over the weekend after consultation with his family, doctor, and close friends," said Michael Munson, Larry's son. "The Munson family would like to thank Cox Radio, the University of Georgia and the Georgia people who have been so supportive of Larry throughout his long career and especially the last several months following his surgery in April. Larry plans to celebrate his 86th birthday this weekend watching the Alabama game with family and close friends."
Both UGA athletic director Damon Evans and UGA president Dr. Michael Adams both wished Munson the best upon his retirement.
"I want to thank Larry Munson on behalf of this great university for 42 dedicated years of delivering the Georgia Bulldogs to fans on fall Saturday's around the world," Evans said. "I truly appreciate his return at the start of this season from surgery to give us all another opportunity to hear him describe the tradition and pageantry of Georgia football as only he could do it. This is a day that we all knew would come for the Bulldog Nation, Larry Munson is and will always be a part of what is great about being a Georgia Bulldog."
Munson began calling Georgia football in 1966.
"Larry Munson has given the bulk of his professional life in the service of the Bulldog Nation and we thank him for it," said Adams. "He has been a unifying element and rallying point for many years. We are grateful for his many contributions and wish for him improved health and many good times to come."
The native of Minneapolis, Munson, who turns 87 on Sunday, first got behind the microphone shortly after World War II when he enrolled in broadcaster's school shortly after the war.
A former broadcaster at the University of Wyoming, Munson befriended another young broadcaster who later gained national fame: Curt Gowdy, who was calling University of Wyoming football and basketball games at the time. When Gowdy left Cheyenne for a Double-A baseball job in Oklahoma City, he recommended that Munson replace him. It was the break that Munson sought.
In 1949, when Gowdy joined Mel Allen on the New York Yankees radio crew, he also recommended Munson for the position in Oklahoma City. Munson eventually moved to Nashville where he called games for the Vanderbilt Commodores before coming to Georgia in 1965 as part of the Atlanta Braves' first broadcast team.
During his career as the Bulldogs' play-by-play man, Munson has held a variety of auxiliary jobs. He called games for the Georgia basketball program from 1987-96 and for the Atlanta Falcons from 1989-92. He has also hosted various sports talk shows on radio and TV.
In 1983, Munson was recognized by the Georgia General Assembly for his role in the Georgia championship football program. Fourteen years later the same legislative body, led by Governor Zell Miller, honored him with a proclamation celebrating his 50 years in broadcasting.
In 1994, Munson was inducted into the Georgia Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and in 2005, he won a similar induction into the State of Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
Munson is also the 2003 recipient of the Chris Schenkel Award, given annually by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. The award recognizes broadcasters with long and distinguished careers in broadcasting college football, as well as their contributions to community service.