Mike Francesa Remembers JFK On 56th Anniversary Of Assassination

By WFAN Sports Radio 101.9 FM/66AM New York

Mike Francesa only had two idols in his life.

Like the majority of kids growing up in New York, Francesa was a fan of Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. Francesa's other idol wasn't an athlete; it was President John F. Kennedy. He says nobody has "ever approached those two" in his eyes. 

Friday marked the 56th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination. The longtime WFAN host detailed where he was on November 22, 1963. 

"I was in grammar school and I was sick that day," Francesa remembered. "I was home sick. My mom worked at night but she was in and out of the house that day. I was home alone, my two brothers were in school. I can't remember if I was just getting over the chicken pox or something like that but I was sick and actually in bed. I was watching TV and all of a sudden here comes this bulletin. There's Walter Cronkite with (the news) that President Kennedy has been shot."

Francesa then addressed the panic and emotion he felt at the moment.

"I'm like, 'whoa wait a second, what does this mean?" Francesa said. "Now, I'm scared to death that I'm home alone because I need to tell someone what the heck is going on but who am I going to tell? There's nobody home. What the heck, the President's been shot? What are we talking about? I'm glued to the TV set and I'm pacing the house. Now, I go downstairs because I'm anxious for my mother to come home. I've got the TV set on downstairs and I'm pacing so I can see one eye into the driveway and see when my mom was going to come home.

"(Cronkite) comes back on with the famous - takes the glasses off, looks at the clock and announces the time and states the President is dead."

He recalled when his mother returned home, furious as she walked through the door. His attention didn't leave the television screen. 

"We were all in the same room, huddled around the TV," Francesa said. "They kept playing the same biography of JFK on a half-hour loop because they had nothing else to put on. They didn't want to put regular programming on. They weren't going to be frivolous. They didn't have the ability to cover (news) the way they do now where they all of a sudden have 9,000 people in place. It wasn't that way. It was set up in a whole different world. We watched as this thing completely dominated American thought and American life those days - right through when he was buried.

Francesa vividly remembers the moments following the tragedy, when Jack Ruby fatally shot Lee Harvey Oswald to the horse-drawn carriage procession for JFK's state funeral on the following Monday.

"It was really the advent of network news completely dominating American life," Francesa said. "It was the first event that really did that. It took us into a new era in so many different ways." 

"That is my recollection of this day," Francesa said. "The angst of getting that bulletin across the screen. Everyone knows where they were on that day if they were old enough to recollect the day and what went on. This changed America in so many ways but this was the first time America gathered around the TV set for days on end and just watched."