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, but he wrote his first commentary for WBUR in 1984 and shortly thereafter his work began airing on NPR’s Morning Edition — where for a few years he hit second (Tuesday) in a line-up that included Frank Deford on Monday and Red Barber on Friday.

A graduate of Yale University and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Bill taught English at Curry College for 39 years and served as writer-in-residence there.

Bill’s most recent book is “Take Me Out,” a collection of sports-and-games-related verse. For Library of America, he helped edit “The Top of His Game: The Best Sportswriting of W.C. Heinz,” and he wrote the introduction for the anthology.

Bill’s other books include “Only A Game,” a collection of radio commentaries and magazine articles published by University of Nebraska Press in 2007; “Fall Classics” (Crown Press 2003), a collection of the best writing about the World Series which he edited with Richard Johnson; “The Circus in the Woods” (Houghton Mifflin 2002); “Prospect” (Houghton Mifflin 1989, paperback 2000); “Baseball Days” (Houghton Mifflin 1993, paperback Pond Press 2000); “Champions: The Stories of Ten Remarkable Athletes” (Little Brown 1993, paperback 1999) and “Keepers: Radio Stories From ‘Only A Game’ and Elsewhere” (Peninsula Press 1998). He was the guest editor of Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Sports Writing in 1998, and his work has appeared in the anthology.

Though his daughters long ago grew too old for him to continue coaching them, Bill still has nightmares about youth league basketball games in which he was allegedly an official.

Recent stories

To Change The Culture Of Sports, Try Putting Women In Charge

May 28, 2016
(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Baylor University football players stood by their former coach this week, after he was fired for his part in ignoring and covering up crimes against women. Bill Littlefield offers a potential solution for a problem that reaches far beyond Baylor.

O’ Indy 500: Poetry Returns For 100th Anniversary

May 28, 2016
The Indy 500's poetry tradition returns at this year's centennial with "For Those Who Love Fast, Loud Things" (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

On the 100th running of the Indy 500, a tradition lost to the Great Depression returns. Bill Littlefield traces the history of poetry — yes, poetry — at the race.

Mickelson News: A Reminder That ‘It's Great To Be In Sports’

May 25, 2016
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 08:  Phil Mickelson of the United States on the second green during the second round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

After golfer Phil Mickelson was named in an insider trading lawsuit, Bill Littlefield was reminded that it can be good to be a famous athlete.

A Magazine Editor’s Attempt To Get (Very) Good At Tennis

May 21, 2016
Players open a box of tennis balls during a training at Roland-Garros tennis stadium in Paris, on May 20, 2010, three days ahead of the French Open, the second Grand Slam tournament of the season.        AFP PHOTO JACQUES DEMARTHON        (Photo credit should read JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)

Not until he was in his mid-50s did former New York Times Magazine editor Gerald Marzorati decide to take tennis seriously. Very seriously. Marzorati hired a coach and spent hours practicing. He chronicles his quest in his new book, “Late to the Ball.”

Not Dead Yet: The Unpredictable History Of Baseball’s Bunt

May 21, 2016
The bunt, an oft-used maneuver by former Major Leaguer Brett Butler, has been ridiculed since its invention. Now statisticians are trying to kill it. (Rich Stewart/Getty Images)

Baseball’s bunt is dead…maybe. Bill Littlefield delves into the past, present and possible future of baseball’s much-maligned maneuver.

Littlefield: Retirement Advice For Tim Duncan

May 18, 2016
Is it time to wave goodbye to Spurs great Tim Duncan? (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Even before the San Antonio Spurs were bounced out of the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder, there was speculation about whether Spurs veteran Tim Duncan would retire. Bill Littlefield offers the potential retiree some advice.

$60M Vs. $1.8M: Sports Facilities There And Here

May 18, 2016
Voters in Hull, Massachusetts, recently defeated a $1.8 million plan to renovate this athletic field. (Courtesy of Jennifer Olivieri)

Last week’s program featured the story of not one but two $60 million high school football facilities in Texas. Meanwhile, voters in Hull, Massachusetts, recently defeated a $1.8 million plan to install a new turf field.

The $19 Million Quarterback And The $7,000 Ford Bronco

May 14, 2016
Why is former Packers quarterback Matt Flynn excited? He just sold his car for $7,000. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Quarterback Matt Flynn has made $19 million over the course of his NFL career. Now he’s earned an extra ~$7,000…after selling his 1996 Ford Bronco on Twitter. Flynn tells Bill Littlefield the story of his former car.

Littlefield: Why I’m Impatient For The NBA Finals

May 11, 2016
Bill Littlefield hopes LeBron James and Stephen Curry will meet again this June. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

We don’t know yet which teams will reach the NBA Finals in June. But Bill Littlefield knows which teams he hopes will find their way there.

Will LeBron James Upstage Michael Jordan In ‘Space Jam 2’?

May 07, 2016
Michael Jordan teamed up with Bugs Bunny in 1996. Now, it will be LeBron James' turn. (Marty Lederhandler/AP)

A “Space Jam” sequel starring LeBron James is in the works. Kristen Ledlow, one of “Space Jam’s” biggest fans, and former film critic Desson Thomson join Only A Game to answer the tough questions, like how LeBron will compare to MJ as an actor.

Bud Collins Remembered As A Giant In Sports Journalism

March 04, 2016
Sports journalist Bud Collins displays a pair of brightly-colored trousers as he sits overlooking the outside courts at Wimbledon in 1993. One of the country’s foremost authorities on professional tennis, Collins died Friday at his home in Brookline. He was 86. (Gill Allen/AP)

Considered one of the country’s foremost authorities on professional tennis, Bud Collins died at his home in Brookline Friday. He was 86.

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.

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