When Vin Scully passed away last week I was reminded of what the great “voices” have meant to those of us who have reached a certain age.
In a time before everything was on television the great radio voices would magically transport us to a stadium or a ball park that was far, far away. They used their voices the way an great artist uses a fine brush to paint an unforgettable picture. The radio guys did it with words but it was no less of a masterpiece..
Larry Munson, the voice of the Georgia Bulldogs from 1966 to 2008, would always open his broadcast with “Get The Picture.” Then he would proceed to tell the listeners the colors of the uniforms for both sides. Then he would mention the weather and tell you which way the wind was blowing because, before the end of the day, that would probably matter.
Munson’s greatest call came in 1980 when Buck Belue’s 93-yard pass to Lindsay Scott in the final minute gave Georgia a 26-21 victory over Florida and launched the Bulldog to the national championship.
When Scott scored, Munson never said “touchdown.” Instead he just screamed “Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott!”
Then Munson signaled for everybody in the radio booth to be quiet so that that the crowd noise could tell the story. Munson and his color analyst Phil Schaefer went silent for a full 41 seconds. I know because I timed it. Scheafer finally broke the silence with the words “Larry if you want a miracle, we just got one.”
Here is the entire radio call.
Larry would later tell me that that he learned that technique—allowing the crowd noise to tell the story—from Vin Scully.
Eight years later, Scully would call Kirk Gibson’s game-winning home run in the 1988 World Series. Scully went silent for a full minute and eight seconds. Again, I timed it. Scully finally said “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.” Here is the entire at-bat. It is amazing work by Scully.
Those two calls made me think about all of the other wonderful voices I miss. Mine all come from college football, which is where I have spent most of my time.
Here are just a few, presented in alphabetical order. I know I’ve left a bunch of them out. Just add your favorite voices to this list:
Rod Bramblett, Auburn, 2003-2019: Bramblett took over at Auburn after the unexpected death of Jim Fyffe. He had a remarkable career that included two of the most famous calls in Auburn history in 2013: “The Prayer at Jordan-Hare” against Georgia and, two weeks later, the “Kick-Six” against Alabama.
Bramblett and his wife, Paula, were killed in an automobile crash when their car was hit by a teenage driver in May of 2019
Al Ciraldo, Georgia Tech, 1954-97: His signature line for the beginning of a game was when “toe meets leather.” He was affiliated with the Tech broadcast for 43 years.
Jack Cristil, Mississippi State:, 1953-2011: Called 636 games in 58 seasons. His signature phrase was “You can wrap it up in Maroon and White.”
Gene Deckerhoff, Florida State, 1979-2021: Deckerhoff was there for the rise of the Seminoles' football program under Bobby Bowden. He also did the Tampa Bay Bucs. He retired as the FSU voice after the 2021 season.
Woody Durham, North Carolina, 1971: Hall of Fame Broadcaster who called Tar Heels football and basketball from 1971-2011. Father of Falcons/ACC broadcaster Wes Durham. He died in 2018. Nobody prepared for a game better than Woody Durham.
Paul Eells, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, 1967-2006: Spent 11 seasons at Vanderbilt and then was voice of Arkansas Razorbacks from 1978-2006.
John Ferguson, LSU 1946-87: Ferguson called LSU games with his rich baritone voice for 42 years.
John Forney, Alabama, 1953-97: Called the entire Bear Bryant era for the Crimson Tide. He retired with Bryant in 1982 but came back to help with the broadcasts in 1988 He remained involved until his death in 1994.
Bob Fulton, South Carolina 1952-94: Fulton took a two-year break as the voice of the Gamecocks to work for Bobby Dodd, the athletics director at Georgia Tech. He came back to South Carolina in 1968 and retired after 41 seasons in 1994.
Jim Fyffe, Auburn, 1981-2003: Grew up in Kentucky and became the voice of the Tigers in 1981. His signature call was “Touchdown Auburn!” Died suddenly of a brain aneurysm at the age of 58.
Bob Harris, Duke, 1976-2007: Called Duke football and men’s basketball for 41 years. Best known for his basketball work in the Mike Krzyzewski era, Harris called 471 Blue Devil football games.
Cawood Ledford, Kentucky, 1953-1992: Ledford was the gold standard for basketball play-by-play but he also called 39 years of Kentucky football. Known for his exquisite use of language.
Jim Phillips, Clemson, 1968-2003: A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Phillips came South to Clemson in 1968 and was the voice of the Tigers until his death in 2003.
John Ward, Tennessee, 1968-1998: Ward had a law degree from Tennessee and picked up extra cash by doing play-by-play of high school games. The majority of his income came from a successful adverting business so he always called his Tennessee broadcast a hobby. His signature phrase came right before each kickoff when he said “It’s football time in Tennessee!!” He retired after Tennessee’s 1998 national championship.
Just three more people I want to mention.
Eli Gold, the Voice of the Alabama Crimson Tide since 1988, will not be available for the beginning of the 2022 season due to health reasons. Please say a prayer for Eli. We need him back soon.
For the first time since 1988, Florida will open a college football season without Mick Hubert calling the action. Hubert called it a career back in May. The Gators will miss is signature “Oh MY!!!!!!!!!”
Keith Jackson wasn’t a radio voice. He wasn't a television voice. He was simply THE VOICE off college football. I miss his voice the most.
Who are your favorite voices of college football? Go to my Twitter account @MrCFB and let me know.