Jan. 21—Colorado athletics lost the voice of several generations of Buffaloes fans with the passing of Larry Zimmer on Saturday evening.
Zimmer, 88, was the "Voice of the Buffaloes" for 42 seasons, providing the lead play-by-play commentary on Colorado football and men's basketball beginning in 1971.
CU held a moment of silence for Zimmer prior to Sunday's tipoff between the third-ranked Buffaloes women's basketball team and No. 6 USC.
"A CU institution. His voice was synonymous with our athletic program and he was most beloved by our coaches, players and fans," CU athletic director Rich George said in a release. "Whether it was calling games on KOA or serving as a master of ceremonies for many of our functions, Larry Zimmer was CU. He is truly a part of our overall athletic history. We will miss him Zimm and our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Zimmer called every CU football game on KOA between 1971 and 1981. Following a brief hiatus from KOA, Zimmer got back behind the CU microphone and never again strayed from the Buffs during his career. Zimmer retired as KOA's sports director in 2004 but remained in the analyst role for football broadcasts alongside current CU play-by-play voice, Mark Johnson.
Zimmer missed a few games due to health reasons in 2014 and retired following the 2015 season. During his career, Zimmer called 486 CU football games (including 22 bowl games) and 525 men's basketball games, putting him behind the mic for 1,011 CU games overall. Including time spent calling games at Michigan and Colorado State, Zimmer called over 1,100 college football and basketball games.
Zimmer also was the longtime radio voice of the Denver Broncos from 1971 through 1996, calling 394 regular season games and 20 playoff games, including four Super Bowls.
Zimmer was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Colorado Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. He joined the CU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012. Zimmer was a five-time winner of both the Colorado Sportscaster of the Year Award and the White Stagg Award for Excellence in Ski Journalism.
In addition to his work at CU and with the Broncos, Zimmer worked broadcast for countless other marquee events, including the Olympics, the College World Series, NFL Europe, and regional network broadcasts for NCAA basketball.
Zimmer is survived by his wife of 51 years, Brigitte Bastian, his two sons and one granddaughter.
"When I came on board as the play-by-play announcer for the Buffaloes in 2004, the transition was seamless because of the professionalism, kindness and graciousness of Larry Zimmer," Johnson said in CU's release. "His endorsement and acceptance of welcoming me into the booth was a signal to Buff Nation that this 'new kid' should be given a chance by the fans. For 12 years, Zim was my mentor and partner calling CU football. He showed me the ropes and filled in the gaps in my knowledge of what it meant to be a Buff.
"In the ensuing eight seasons following Larry's retirement, he became my greatest cheerleader," Johnson added. "Frequently, I'd receive a heartwarming text from Zim saying simply, 'Great broadcast on Saturday! You and Gary (Barnett) did a nice job capturing the game for all of us listeners!'"