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A Thank You Letter To Mike Francesa

Mike Francesa WFAN

On December 15th, 2017, the one and only Mike Francesa will be heard on the WFAN airways for the final time. Like he has for the past 10 years, he will be a one-man show with just passionate fans calling in. Francesa has been a staple of not just New York sports, but the entire city for the past 30 years. Even though he has assured us he will be back on the media landscape in an unannounced way, even he will admit it will not be the same.

His fans – Mongos – span generations, from those who listened to him and the Mad Dog 30 years ago on their way home from work, those e who work in thier cars, the natural progression of radio on the internet, and the YES simulcast. Then of course is my generation, the generation that grew up with you as our parents listened to you and Dog in the car on the way home from school or as we traveled, the birth of Mongo Twitter accounts that let us relive the moments when we were too young to understand their greatness, and just a huge amount respect we have for someone in your position.

And now I give you, a thank you letter to Mike Francesa.

Dear Mike Francesa,

I’ve only really known you for 15 of your 30+ years on air, roughly half the total time you shared with listeners. The first time was definitely a warm welcome and howahyou, unfortunately not a “hello deah.” As an avid New York sports fan like thousands of others, you and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo having your show, appropriately named “Mike and the Mad Dog,” simulcast during the early years of the YES Network proved extremely beneficial. Your program introduced me to your two – politely – colorful personalities and a medium that would have been totally LAWST on me otherwise.

It wasn’t until my early years of high school I really started listening more, but by that time Dog was already one foot out the door, accepting an offer from Sirius XM to create his own empire. You, however, stayed to expand your own horizon as an AWL-TIME solo artist, and I and many others are immensely grateful you stuck with it. With a booming internet, YouTube taking off and social media catching fire as I was one foot out the door preparing for college, you became more of a mainstay, and I took you with me two hours north to Poughkeepsie.

I don’t need to totally refresh you on the outbursts, clips, interviews and outtakes through the years, all helping you remain atop local ratings for three decades. My fondest memories of you are simple, yet mind-numbingly ordinary — driving with my best friend in his indestructible Pontiac while the Jets completed a trade for Brett Favre as we lost our minds, or sitting in the living room of my college dorm as Alex Rodriguez left the Commissioner’s Office shortly after the announcement of his suspension. We each have our own, and DA BOTTOM LOYNE is: there are more than enough of those unique memories to go around.

On Thursday, close to… NOYNTY esteemed, prominent guests and callers, including current athletes, athletes who enjoyed you so much when they did play they kept up a relationship with you after retirement, former head coaches, former colleagues, former WFAN employees who moved onto greener pastures, family, friends, and those independent from the company who are right now making an impact in the industry you helped a carve a path for, all shared the same feeling I and the rest of #MongoNation have, gratitude. Your producers gave us five-and-a-half hours of nothing but guests, and it still felt like we needed every five-and-a-half hour drive you ever did in order to fully and properly express the sentiment.

A few years back at the first FrancesaCon, I and two close friends briefly met and took a picture with you, a moment we will never forget. Although you don’t know me personally and have only taken a call from me once, you don’t have to in order to understand the sincere gratitude and passion I have for the entertainment you brought me through the years.

That passion resonates in every single Mongo young and old; the 50-year old Giants fan who wants to trade Odell Beckham Jr. because he’s a head case and team cancer, the doom-and-gloom Generation X Mets fan who was too young to see the 1986 team rise and subsequently fall, the 70-year old Yankees fan who, like you, grew up IDOLIZING your favorite player, Mickey Mantle, and the 40-year old Knicks fan who watched Patrick Ewing come up and short time and time again and wonders if Madison Square Garden itself is cursed.

Whether it was regurgitating a “Summer of 94” airplane tale, helping navigate future Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza to the Mets, telling us Roe invited Dog to your wedding after not speaking to him for months, confusing Daredevil for a Truce Tori, reminding us Andy Pettitte was, in fact, a STARTIN PITCHAH and demanding Joba Chamberlain’s stats, giving us live play-by-play of NCAA Tournament basketball games after constantly reiterating you would NEVER do it, bashing NFL Commissioner Rawjigga Dell, praising MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, throwing us to the Mink Man (John Minko) every 20 minutes, giving us freaking Julio, or captivating us with your raw arrogant “New Yawk know-it-all” attitude while hanging up on callers, there was truly something for everybody. ESPN didn’t ultimately produce a “30 for 30” special on you and Dawg fuh nothin, uhkay?

They say don’t cry because it’s over, drink a diet coke because it happened. Despite the afternoon void you will leave behind, many of us, including myself, are definitely smiling, reflecting on how much fun and laughs there truly were over the last 30 years. Mike, you were one of a kind, most certainly a pioneer, untouchable, but most of all, to us, you were always NUMBAH ONE. Thank you for the fond memories.

Sincerely, Joe in Staten Island.

Back aftuh diss.

About Joe Calabrese

Joe is a SBNY writer/editor, and a fan of the Yankees, Rangers and Jets. He has previously worked for the National Hockey League, NBC Sports and written for FanSided.

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