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

‘Great Men Die Twice’ Revisits The Writing Of Mark Kram

June 27, 2015
0625_OAG-kram-COVER

Mark Kram was a legendary sports writer for Sports Illustrated in the 1960s and ’70s. His exit from S.I. caused problems for his son Mark Kram, Jr., who had the name first and also became a sports writer. Kram, Jr. edited the new collection of his father’s work titled “Great Men Die Twice” and joins Bill Littlefield.

Darts Study Proves The Power Of Rivalries

June 27, 2015
What happens when a rival student tells you whether you hit the bullseye or not? (Jordan Masnfield/Getty Images)

Many sports fans enjoy heckling players from the rival team. But a 2012 study performed at the University of Exeter shows taunting an opponent may actually help the opposition. Bill Littlefield has the story.

Pete Rose-Colored Glasses: A Case For Charlie Hustle

June 25, 2015
Pete Rose has been on a quest to be in the Hall of Fame. Despite betting as a manager... and potentially as a player, Bill Littlefield believes the all-time hits leader should get his own plaque in Cooperstown. (Bob Daugherty/AP)

The ongoing campaign by Pete Rose to return to baseball’s good graces and become eligible for the Hall of Fame hit another bump in the road this week when ESPN revealed evidence that Rose had bet on games when he was a player … something he had denied. Bill Littlefield thinks Rose should be enshrined anyway.

‘You Can’t Make This Up’ Chronicles Al Michaels’ Half Century In Sports

June 20, 2015
There has only been one play-by-play commentator to broadcast all four major sports championships: Al Michaels. In over 40 years of bradcasting he has covered the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup Final, and NBA Finals. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Chances are, if you have watched a sporting event on television, you’ve heard Al Michaels’ voice. Michaels joins Bill Littlefield to discuss his career, his famous “Miracle on Ice” call, and his new memoir, “You Can’t Make This Up.”

The Last Place You Want To Be

June 17, 2015
The Boston Red Sox season has been dismal, which prompted Bill Littlefield to remember another time when he picked dinner over watching the Sox at Fenway. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

The Boston Red Sox season has been dismal thus far. Bill Littlefield tells the story of a time he and some friends decided to stay away from Fenway Park.

‘Split Season’ Details The Strike Shortened 1981 MLB Season

June 13, 2015

The 1981 baseball season was shaping up to be a great one, behind Pete Rose’s bat and Fernando Valenzuela’s arm. But the season was interrupted by a strike, which is the focus of author and mayor of Cooperstown Jeff Katz’s new book. Katz talked with Bill Littlefield.

Bill Littlefield: A Closing Thought On Motivation In Sports

June 06, 2015
(Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

“Done well, motivation is liberating,” writes Bill Littlefield.

‘Molina’ Remembers A Father Who Raised Three World Series Champs

June 06, 2015
Molina: The Story Of The Father Who Raised An Unlikely Baseball Dynasty: By Bengie Molina with Joan Ryan

Bengie Molina played in the Major Leagues from 1998 until 2010. His brothers Jose and Yadier have also had pro careers. Bengie joined Bill Littlefield to discuss his new book, “Molina: The Story of the Father Who Raised An Unlikely Baseball Dynasty.”

Hollywood Scores A ‘Miracle’ With Locker Room Speech

June 06, 2015
Did a pre-game speech really help the U.S. top the Soviet Union in the 1980 gold medal game? (Steve Powell /Getty Images)

The 2004 movie “Miracle” dramatizes the United States’ win over the Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympics. In the film’s most famous scene, U.S. coach Herb Brooks, played by Kurt Russell, delivers a motivational pregame talk. But how accurate was that movie speech? Bill Littlefield tracks down some of the players who were in the locker room 35 years ago and finds a surprising answer.

Littlefield: Slipping And Sliding Through My First Ice Hockey Practice

June 06, 2015
The first time Bill Littlefield took to the ice for hockey practice, his skates didn't exactly fit. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Bill Littlefield remembers his first ice hockey practice — and his first pair of (too-big) ice skates.

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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