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

Leicester City’s Big Win Is Fun For Everyone — Except Bookmakers

May 04, 2016
Leicester City fans had plenty to celebrate this week after their team won an improbable English Premier League title. The only ones who weren't rejoicing? Bookmakers. (Justin Tallis/Getty Images)

Leicester City is assured of finishing first in England’s top soccer league. Bill Littlefield is among the surprised and delighted.

Onaje Woodbine’s Spiritual Journey Leads Back To The Court — And Stage

April 30, 2016

Former Yale star Onaje X.O. Woodbine quit basketball at the top of his game to pursue “the higher aims of divine purpose and truth.” As it turns out, that journey took him back to basketball. He tells Bill Littlefield his story.

Tennis In Bullrings And On Ice: Rod Laver On The Pro Circuit’s Early Days

April 30, 2016
Laver won the Wimbledon men's single's event four times between 1961-1969. (Allsport UK /Allsport

Until the advent of the Open Era in 1968, professional tennis players were excluded from the sport’s top tournaments. So instead of competing at Wimbledon or the US Open, tennis pros toured the world, often playing in unusual — and unfavorable — conditions. Tennis Hall of Famer Rod Laver joins Bill Littlefield to talk about his experiences.

The Takeaway From Laremy Tunsil’s NFL Draft Night

April 30, 2016
Some scouts pegged former Ole Miss linebacker as the No. 1 prospect in this year's NFL Draft. But, thanks to a social media hacker, Tunsil fell to No. 13 (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Laremy Tunsil’s is a story to which all sorts of different morals might be attached. One of them is that it’s good to be the quarterback.

Deflategate To The Supreme Court? Nina Totenberg Weighs In

April 30, 2016
<> at Gillette Stadium on May 24, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

A federal appeals court upheld Roger Goodell’s suspension of Tom Brady, but there’s still a chance that the case could be brought before the Supreme Court. And if it did, how would the nation’s highest court rule on the most over-inflated saga in NFL history? Bill Littlefield talks Deflategate with NPR’s Nina Totenberg.

Littlefield: Derby Day’s Coming

April 27, 2016
Bill Littlefield is ready for the Kentucky Derby and all of the pomp and circumstance that comes with it. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Is it too early to begin thinking about the first Saturday in May and the horse race traditionally run on that day? Bill Littlefield doesn’t think so.

David Duchovny On The Magic Of ‘Bucky Bleeping Dent’

April 23, 2016
The New York Yankees celebrate after winning the one-game playoff against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Oct. 2, 1978, sending the Yankees to the post season. Closer Goose Gossage popped up Carl Yastrzemski with two Red Sox on base in the bottom of the ninth, sending the Fenway faithful home stunned. The American League Championship Series started in Kansas City the following day.
(AP Photo)

X-Files star David Duchovny, a Yankees fan, first knew Bucky Dent as the guy whose home run sent New York to the 1978 ALCS over Boston. He later discovered from some guys on a New England roof that there was a different side to the story. Duchovny explores that side in a new novel.

What’s In A Name: Horsey McHorseface Becomes A Star

April 23, 2016
Horsey McHorseface. (Courtesy of Bjorn Baker Racing)

Trainer Bjorn Baker was having trouble selling shares in his new horse … until he named him Horsey McHorseface.

How The $1B Concussion Settlement Fails Former Players

April 23, 2016
13 Sep 1992:  Defensive lineman Fred Smerlas of the New England Patriots (left) works against the Los Angeles Rams during a game at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California.  The Rams won the game, 14-0. Mandatory Credit: Ken Levine  /Allsport

Evidence of CTE has turned up in nearly all of the former NFL players whose brains have been examined. Yet many of the players suffering from the symptoms of CTE are unlikely to get relief under the terms of the concussion settlement affirmed by a federal court on Monday. Bill Littlefield has the story.

Concussion Settlement Affirmed, But Fight Must Continue

April 20, 2016
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater lies on the field after suffering a concussion. On Monday, a three-judge panel  (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt, File)

On Monday, a settlement to which the NFL and retired players agreed was deemed acceptable by a U.S. court of appeals. The NFL hopes that’s the end of the story that began with thousands of former players suing the league. Bill Littlefield hopes it’s not.

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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