And Now the Sugar has Risen to Heaven – UPDATED

Larry Munson, the legendary voice of the Georgia Bulldogs, passed away overnight due to complications from his earlier bout with pneumonia. He was 89.

If you’re not a Bulldawg, you wonder why all hoopla… well, take a listen here, and when the goosebumps rise, head back here. That’s ok. I’ll wait. Listening to Larry is a joy.

Larry was always a part of my Dawg experience. When you weren’t there, he was, and boy, could he make you feel like you were sitting right beside him. Georgia fans would turn down the TV broadcasters (unbiased, my foot. And don’t get me started about about Kirk Herbstreit!) and listen to Larry.

Georgia Sports Blog has several good round-ups, including how the 1978 Kentucky game sealed Tyler’s destiny as a Dawg. Funny, but that my memory of that game in particular always raises the hair on my neck. I was in the Redcoats, Kentucky was away that year. Those days, the band didn’t travel as much as it does now. The game was winding down. The Dawgs were behind, driving down the field, hoping to get into field goal range. Larry was about to melt the radio. The clock. The clock was killing us. My mom and I were pacing around the kitchen table like nervous dads in hospital waiting rooms. When Rex Robinson made the field goal, we jumped and hollered so much, something broke in the china cabinet. Such was the effect of Larry.

Three years ago, Larry retired. UGA released this video tribute. (via SBNation)

Sweet dear Larry, scratch the UGA’s bellies for me, rub Erk’s shiny head and ask to see Lewis’ tattoo. Can you imagine the three of them, together on their cloud and the stories that will be told for eternity?

There will be more linkage as the tributes roll in. It’s a sad day for the Bulldawg Nation. And yet just another reason to beat the ever-livin’-stuffin’ out of Georgia Tech. This one will be for you, Larry.

UPDATE: At Peach Pundit, fellow Dawg Charlie said, “In a region of the country where college football is a way of life, he was the pied piper to those who wear red and black.

Amen to that!

UPDATE II: Here’s a wonderful eulogy by Joe Posnanski.

There were people who didn’t like Munson, of course, but it seems most people did, even those who despised Georgia or biased announcers. The bias wasn’t the point. He just made it fun. He was over-the-top. He was literary and wacky and unpredictable. He was both intensely cynical (“We have no chance today,” was pretty much how he approached every game) and starry eyed. He brought the same energy and wonderment and ferocity to every game. When the Bulldogs were losing, he was sure they would lose. When they were winning, he was warning about disasters lingering just around the corner (Hunker down!). And when Georgia actually won cherokee roses bloomed, Ray Charles sang, moonlight slipped through the pines.

And like the rest of us, Munson was the voice inside Tommy Tomlinson’s head. One day back in 1980…

I happened to be in Athens on the day of the Georgia-Florida game in 1980. I was on my high-school debate team, and we had been in a tournament, and we gathered in an auditorium on campus waiting for the results. Some kids in the back had a radio and were listening to the game down in Jacksonville. I couldn’t hear the words, but I could hear the tone of Larry’s voice. Georgia was done. Third-and-forever on their own 8.

And then Larry’s voice rose, and I looked over my shoulder and the kids in the back had jumped out of their seats. I know this next part didn’t happen, but it’s what I remember: The radio was dancing off the floor and the words were flying out of it, like you see in cartoons.

“45, 40 — RUN, LINDSAY — 25, 20, 15, 10, 5, LINDSAY SCOTT! LINDSAY SCOTT! LINDSAY SCOTT!”

We ran outside. You could hear hollering from the dorms, and car horns honking, and people just stood there on the sidewalk and screamed. This went on for hours. I was 16, and it was the most spontaneous joy I had ever been a part of.

Yeah, Larry had a way of doing that.

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