Larry Munson was a regional icon in the Southeast. He was an industry icon in sports broadcasting. He was as entertaining talking about movies and fishing as he was calling Georgia games. A true original.
I feel like I could have spent an afternoon with him and learned more about life in that brief time than I would have learned in ten years of living.
To learn that he also played piano with pre World War II Frank Sinatra just adds to the legend. Amazing.
As a high school senior in Minneapolis, Munson was, by his own account, a “decent” piano player who loved jazz. He was in class when the phone call came. The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, in town and scheduled to play 28 shows over the next week, had lost its regular piano player to illness.
“I had no idea how they got my name,” Munson once recalled. “I couldn’t believe they were interested in me.”
Soon, he found himself onstage with one of the most heralded groups of the big band era. The lead singer was a skinny kid from Hoboken, N.J.
“The women went crazy over Frank,” said Munson, who played every show with Sinatra for the princely sum of $31 per night. “I had never seen anything like it in my life.”
Some of his calls were more well known than these, but these are the iconic ones from my memory. Sure, I was alive during Belue to Scott but I lived, quite viscerally, these two: