WBUR Staff

Bill Littlefield

Host, Only A Game , WBUR

Bill Littlefield has been the host of Only A Game since the program began in 1993. He’s been a commentator for WBUR and NPR since 1984.  For several years he hit second (Tuesday) in a Morning Edition line-up that included Frank Deford on Monday and Red Barber on Friday.

“Take Me Out”, Bill’s collection of sport-and-games-related doggerel, will be published in September by Zephyr Press, and in January, 2015, Library of America will publish “The Best of W.C. Heinz”, which Bill edited, and for which he wrote the introduction.  His other books include Only A Game and Keepers, both collections of his radio and magazine work; Prospect and The Circus in the Woods, both novels; and Baseball Days and Champions: Stories of Ten Remarkable Athletes. He was the guest editor for Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Sports Writing in 1998, and his essay “The Gym At Third and Ross” was featured in the 2013 edition. He writes a column about sports-related books for the Boston Globe.

Though his daughters, Amy and Alison, have grown too old for Bill to coach them, he still has nightmares about youth league basketball games in which he was allegedly an official.

Recent stories

Nine Years Later, Revisiting Duquesne Men’s Basketball Shooting

February 25, 2015
Sam Ashaolu was one of five Duquesne University basketball players shot in 2006. Ashaolu is now interested in becoming a coach. (Keith Srakocic/AP)

On Sept. 17, 2006, five members of the Duquesne University men’s basketball team were shot after leaving a dance on the Duquesne campus in Pittsburgh. A recent shooting provoked Bill Littlefield to revisit those circumstances.

Music on Only A Game

February 14, 2015
Only A Game Music

Bill Littlefield’s job listing this week’s music couldn’t have been much easier.

‘The Whistleblower’ Explores The Life Of A College Basketball Ref

February 14, 2015
Ed Hightower, who reffed 12 Final Fours, retired in 2013. (L.G. Patterson/AP)

Author Bob Katz chronicles the life of referee Ed Hightower in his new book “The Whistleblower.” Katz joins Bill Littlefield to share what he learned from the project.

Littlefield On Gay Athletes: ‘One Day These Stories Will Seem Quaint’

February 14, 2015
A story about a college swim team has given Bill Littlefield hope for the future. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

A story about a swimmer at Villanova who came out to his teammates has given Bill Littlefield hope for the future.

The Sports Fan’s February Lament

February 11, 2015
(Jack Dempsey/AP)

“For sports, as for a lot of things, this February…is a tough month,” Bill Littlefield writes.

‘Circus Maximus’ Tallies The Real Cost Of Hosting The Olympics

February 07, 2015
0207_oag_circus_maximus-crop

The cost of hosting events like the Olympics and FIFA World Cup is higher than most proponents care to admit. Economist Andrew Zimbalist explains the cost in his book ‘Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup.’ He speaks with Bill Littlefield.

En Garde! High School Fencing Program Celebrates 50 Years

February 07, 2015
Lucy Manlick (left) hits an airborne Julia Jacobs (rightt) as Claire Gordy referees. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Concord-Carlisle High School’s fencing team has been around for 50 years, started up by history teacher Elliot Lilien. For the students on the team, fencing is much more than stabbing people with swords. Bill Littlefield reports.

A ‘Tough Year’ For Roger Goodell?

February 04, 2015
At a press conference before the Super Bowl NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell said "It was a tough year on me." (Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

The nation’s most popular game ended with history’s most popular television production on Sunday. But Bill Littlefield is still thinking about something the NFL’s commissioner said before the Super Bowl began.

Music On Only A Game

January 31, 2015
Only A Game Music

Bill Littlefield had his work cut out for him on this edition of the Only A Game music blog.

Super Bowl Haiku XXI

January 31, 2015
Dreaming fans wonder / Will Brady be suspended? / Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! (Charles Krupa/AP)

Sure, the Seahawks and Patriots are a good Super Bowl matchup, but we’re just here for the haiku. Bill Littlefield presents the most recent iteration of Only A Game’s annual tradition.

A ‘Signature Signing': Revs Land Jermaine Jones

August 26, 2014
U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones (13) celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during a World Cup match against Portugal in Brazil on June 22. (Julio Cortez/AP)

The New England Revolution have acquired 32-year-old midfielder Jermaine Jones, who was last seen starring for the U.S. national team at the 2014 World Cup.

Liverpool Football Club Teaches Fundamentals, Fun Of Game To Perkins Students

July 23, 2014
(Marc Finn/WBUR)

The service arm of the Liverpool Football Club — along with a couple of team legends — was at the Perkins School For the Blind to teach soccer to some of the students using special equipment for the visually impaired.

Bill Russell: Champion Of Basketball And Civil Rights

November 01, 2013
Former Celtics player Bill Russell speaks at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Aug. 28, 2013. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Public preservation hasn’t seemed to matter much to Bill Russell, but it’s likely he’s pleased with the portion of his monument — set to be unveiled in Boston — that includes messages about teamwork.

Sox Welcome P Peavy To Rotation, Clubhouse

August 01, 2013
Then-Chicago White Sox starter Jake Peavy pitches July 25. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

The Red Sox traded for the Cy Young winner late Tuesday.

Bill Littlefield: Many Factors Working In Red Sox’s Favor

July 16, 2013

Half-way through the season, the Boston Red Sox have the best record in the American League. Bill Littlefield that is due in part to what other team’s aren’t doing.

The Potential Interpretations Of Rondo's Shoving Match

November 29, 2012
The Celtics' Rajon Rondo walks off the court after being ejected in the second quarter against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

Celtics guard Rajon Rondo was suspended for two games Thursday for a skirmish in Wednesday night’s game. Only A Game’s host shares his thoughts.

Commentary: Should Athlete Involvement In Harvard’s Cheating Scandal Change The Story?

September 12, 2012
Harvard's Kyle Casey plans to withdraw from school amid a cheating scandal that also may involve other athletes, according to several reports. (AP)

Over 100 students are being investigated for cheating, but the involvement of the co-captains of the basketball team has altered the discussion.

Littlefield On Pesky: Recalling A Great Storyteller

August 14, 2012
Late Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky, right, and WBUR's Bill Littlefield, during one of their many interviews (Only A Game File Photo)

Johnny Pesky, the Red Sox’ unofficial ambassador, passed away Monday. WBUR’s Bill Littlefield recalls the beloved longtime member of the organization.

In Needham, Gymnast Aly Raisman Is A Hometown Hero

August 01, 2012
Olympic medalist Aly Raisman  is the captain of the U.S. women's gymnastics team at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. (AP)

“Only A Game” host Bill Littlefield and Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman live in the same town, Needham, where the town is wild about Aly.

Bob Ryan’s Definition Of Retiring: Still Working, But Less

July 19, 2012

Longtime Boston Globe sports writer Bob Ryan is set to retire after the London Olympics, but it won’t be a matter of sitting on the porch with a pitcher of cold lemonade and a scrapbook.

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