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

Taking Sportsmanship To The Next Level

November 28, 2015
Atlantic Union College athletics were known for a friendly and welcoming atmosphere to all competitors.

Traditionally, Atlantic Union College, a Seventh-day Adventist institution, wasn’t interested in sports. But in the ’90s, the school started looking at athletic competitions differently. Only A Game’s Bill Littlefield took in a post-game reception at the college in 1995 and came back with this report about the school’s unique sportsmanship.

‘Little Victories’ And The (Many) Rules Of Touch Football

November 28, 2015
Touch football is no laughing matter--that's why Jason Gay has created rules to maintain the integrity of the game.

The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay has compiled a list of rules for Thanksgiving Day touch football, to help keep your family’s annual game from disintegrating into lawlessness. Gay joined Bill Littlefield to discuss the rules, which are included in his new book “Little Victories.”

‘What A Way To Make A Living:’ Bill Littlefield Gives Thanks

November 25, 2015
Bill and Roger Angell. (Courtesy of Bill Littlefield.)

Bill Littlefield is among the many giving thanks for gifts past and present. “Thanks for balls that bounced just right,” he writes, “And games that brightened up dark nights…”

‘Fox Tossing’ Looks Back On Strange And Forgotten Games

November 21, 2015
Catapulting foxes into the air for fun doesn't sound like a wise thing to do--that didn't stop rich 18th century German hunters from doing it though.

Fox tossing, monowheel rolling and waterfall riding are just three of the “sports” explored in Edward Brooke-Hitching’s new book “Fox Tossing: And Other Forgotten and Dangerous Sports, Pastimes, and Games.”

Two Sportsmen Face Life After Paris

November 21, 2015
The Atlanta Hawks' Thabo Sefolosha spent three seasons playing for the pro French basketball team Élan Chalon. (Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)

Atlanta Hawks’ guard Thabo Sefolosha understands life in Europe: he is from Switzerland and played for three years on a French basketball team. Bill Littefield compares remarks Sefolosha recently made about the attacks in Paris with his own recent experience in the city.

Why Fighting Still Thrives In The NHL

November 18, 2015
at SAP Center on November 5, 2015 in San Jose, California.

When the Nashville Predators played the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday night, Mike Fisher knocked out one of Kevin Bieksa’s teeth. And, yes, hockeyfights.com is still in business. Bill Littlefield has always wondered why fighting, which is seriously discouraged in other sports, gets a pass in hockey.

Take Your Pick: Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman Of The Year Candidates

November 14, 2015
attends the Sportsman Of The Year 2014 Ceremony on December 9, 2014 in New York City.

Which athlete, team or horse had the definitive performance of the year? Bill Littlefield picks out his frontrunners for who is most deserving of Sports Illustrated’s annual honor.

Remembering The ‘Fifth Down Game’ Of 1940

November 14, 2015
Referee "Red" Friesell accidentally gave Cornell's football team an extra down when the school played rival Dartmouth on November 16, 1940. Ever since, that game has been known as the "Fifth Down Game." (AP)

On Nov. 16, 1940, Cornell’s football team beat Dartmouth on a last-second play — on the fifth down. What happened after that error has cemented the “Fifth Down Game’s” place in college football history.

Only The Beginning? College Athletes Unite Against Racism

November 14, 2015
COLUMBIA, MO - NOVEMBER 10: Members of the University of Missouri Tigers football team return to practice at Memorial Stadium at Faurot Field on November 10, 2015 in Columbia, Missouri. The university looks to get things back to normal after the recent protests on campus that lead to the resignation of the school's President and Chancellor on November 9. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

The University of Missouri’s football team joined the protests that forced the university president and chancellor to resign. Bill Littlefield investigates the likelihood that this activism will inspire others college athletes around the nation to use their position for good.

Missouri And The Future Of Athlete Activism On Campus

November 11, 2015
COLUMBIA, MO - NOVEMBER 10: Members of the University of Missouri Tigers Football Team return to practice at Memorial Stadium at Faurot Field on November 10, 2015 in Columbia, Missouri. The university looks to get things back to normal after the recent protests on campus that lead to the resignation of the school's President and Chancellor on November 9. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

The boycott of football-related activities by members of the University of Missouri team to protest racism on the campus is over, and the president and chancellor of the university have resigned. Bill Littlefield considers the potential impact of the action on athletes at other campuses.

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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