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Former Bulldogs remember, mourn Munson

FILE - In this file photo released by the University of Georgia Athletic Department, the football team's radio announcer, Larry Munson, is seen on Oct. 2, 2004, during a broadcast from Athens, Ga. Munson died Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011. He was 89. A university statement said he died at his Athens home of complications from pneumonia, according to his son, Michael. (AP Photo/University of Georgia, File)

FILE - In this file photo released by the University of Georgia Athletic Department, the football team's radio announcer, Larry Munson, is seen on Oct. 2, 2004, during a broadcast from Athens, Ga. Munson died Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011. He was 89. A university statement said he died at his Athens home of complications from pneumonia, according to his son, Michael. (AP Photo/University of Georgia, File)

On his own credentials, David Greene ranks pretty high as a University of Georgia football legend.

The South Gwinnett grad finished his career with some impressive Bulldog marks, not the least of which was his win total as a starting quarterback. His 42 wins at QB broke Peyton Manning's NCAA record back in 2004.

So what is the one memory from his career that is brought up most often? The "hobnail boot" play, his touchdown pass to Verron Haynes that beat Tennessee in 2001, his freshman season, comes up every week or two.

It's reached that status thanks to legendary UGA announcer Larry Munson, who passed away Sunday night at 89 years old after complications from pneumonia.

"People still talk about the whole hobnail boot thing," Greene said Monday. "It would have been just another play in history if he didn't come up with the hobnailed boot thing. ... Larry just had the perfect voice for radio. He'll obviously go down in history as one of the greatest Bulldogs ever."

The "hobnail boot" call is one of many memorable calls from Munson, who served as the voice of UGA football from 1966 to 2008. It's also the most memorable in the careers of younger guys like Greene and former Bulldog offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb, a Parkview grad who blocked for Greene on that game-winning march at Tennessee.

It's part of a 42-year-long audio archive, a soundtrack jam-packed with UGA football memories. Pretty much any major Bulldog win in a four-decade span plays back in fans' heads with Munson's voice as the narration:

--"Look at the sugar falling out of the sky" from a 1982 win over Auburn that clinched the SEC title and a Sugar Bowl bid

--"My God, a freshman!" when Herschel Walker trucks Tennessee's Bill Bates in 1980.

-- "Run Lindsay!" and "Lindsay Scott, Lindsay Scott, Lindsay Scott!" from later in the 1980 season that beat Florida, which also includes audio of Munson breaking a "metal steel chair with about a 5-inch cushion."

There are many, many others. Each one is special to different people, including former players.

Their own memories as a player include verbiage from Munson, a Minnesota native who found his way to Georgia as the Atlanta Braves' inaugural play-by-play man in 1966.

"During my childhood, you could identify a Georgia game just by hearing Larry's voice," said Stinchcomb, an NFL lineman for nearly nine seasons and a lifelong Bulldog fan. "Larry's voice was synonymous with Georgia football.

"As a Georgia player, you can go through your own career with Larry's calls. It's kind of woven into the fabric of Georgia football for all those years."

Munson's path to Athens was a long one, starting after his service in World War II, when he used his military discharge pay to fund broadcasting school. He went from places like Devil's Lake, N.D., to Cheyenne, Wyom., and eventually to jobs in Oklahoma City and Nashville, with guidance from his good friend Curt Gowdy.

During his first spring with the Atlanta Braves, he picked up the UGA play-by-play gig. He added other duties through the years -- Bulldog basketball for a decade and Atlanta Falcons' games for a few years -- but his legend was cemented by UGA football and its droves of fans who adored his every word.

It's what made him a cult figure in the state and earned later inductions into the Georgia Association of Broadcasters, Georgia Sports and National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association hall of fames. UGA even made him an honorary football letterman, even though he attended tiny Moorehead State Teachers College (Minn.).

"Larry's been such a key figure in Georgia football for so long," said Stinchcomb, whose older brother Matt also played at UGA. "He's represented Georgia so well. As a player, you'll forever be proud of playing during the Munson days.

"I'm so grateful that I developed a personal relationship with him my last few years at Georgia and got to know the man behind the voice and what a special person he was."

Munson's family announced Monday, through UGA's sports information department, that a memorial service for Munson is planned at a later date yet to be determined. The event will be after Dec. 4, the release said.

It also didn't name a venue for the service, which is likely to be heavily attended. The most fitting location may be Sanford Stadium, where many of Munson's memories were made and one location that may be big enough to host all of his fans.

Many of those fans are also former Bulldog players.

"Larry Munson defined what it meant to be a Bulldog every Saturday on the radio during football season," former UGA player and Brookwood grad Ian Knight said. "I'll never forget the first time I heard him say my name while watching a replay of the game. It still makes me smile. What I will always remember about Larry is how genuine of a person he really was. I don't think he ever realized how endeared he was to Bulldog fans. He was always approachable and loved talking to people."