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

‘The QB’ Joins The Search For The Next Great NFL Quarterback

January 17, 2015
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Finding and developing the next great NFL quarterback has become big business. Bill Littlefield spoke with Bruce Feldman, author of ‘The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks’ to gain insight in the men who train the next generation of potential Hall of Famers.

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction At Machine Gun America

January 14, 2015
Teenagers are welcome to take aim at targets at Florida's Machine Gun America. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Machine Gun America is a real place in South Florida: a place where anyone over the age of 13 can shoot machine guns at targets resembling zombies, gangsters or Osama Bin Laden.

Baseball Hall Of Fame Elects Four New Members

January 10, 2015
Baseball Hall of Fame Voters inducted four former players this year, including three pitchers. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

The Baseball Hall of Fame is getting four new members: pitchers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz, along with Craig Biggio. Bill Littlefield has the rundown on the new electees.

In New Biography, Former NHL Goalie Malarchuk Details Brushes With Death

January 10, 2015
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Former hockey goalie Clint Malarchuk suffered a life-threatening injury in 1989 when his neck was slashed by a hockey skate. Off the ice, he’s struggled with mental health problems since childhood. He writes about both issues in his new book “A Matter of Inches,” which he joins Bill Littlefield to discuss.

NFL Playoff Referees Should Have Our Sympathy, Not Scorn

January 07, 2015
Referee Pete Morelli initially threw a flag for pass-interference, then changed his mind. (Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)

In a playoff game between the Lions and Cowboys, officials reversed a pass-interference penalty. The refs may have sent the Lions home early, but as Bill Littlefield knows from personal experience, they aren’t the only officials who’ve ever erred.

Pedro Martinez Was Dominant — And Fun

January 06, 2015
In this Oct. 18, 2004, file photo, Boston Red Sox starter Pedro Martinez throws to the New York Yankees in the first inning of Game 5 of the ALCS in Boston. Martinez was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Tuesday. (Charles Krupa/AP)

At his peak he may have been baseball’s most effective pitcher, Bill Littlefield says. Beyond all that, he was great fun to watch.

2014: The (Sports) Year In Review

January 03, 2015
Off-field issues were a major issue in 2014 for the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell, but the league managed to maintain its popularity. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

What was the most significant sports moment from 2014? The cases against Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice? Michael Sam coming out? The Sochi Olympics? The World Cup? Donald Sterling’s ouster from the NBA? In a year loaded with major news, Only A Game asked top sports writers to make their picks.

‘The Best American Sports Writing’ With Christopher McDougall

January 03, 2015
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Series editor Glenn Stout and guest editor Christopher McDougall join Bill Littlefield to discuss the eclectic collection in ‘The Best American Sports Writing 2014.’

Music On Only A Game

January 02, 2015
Only A Game Music

Bill Littlefield’s discusses the Power Rangers — and the music on this week’s show.

Military Rehab Program Welcomes NFL Retirees

December 31, 2014
“Guys getting out of the military and guys leaving football face the same question: What do we do now?” says Devin Hutchings,, director of After the Impact. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

After the Impact pairs former NFL players with combat veterans in therapeutic activities. According to Devin Hutchings, the program’s director, the vets and former players “create a brotherhood” based on their mutual respect as well as the similar challenges they face.

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)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — 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)

BOSTON — 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)

BOSTON — 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)

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

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

July 16, 2013

BOSTON — 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)

BOSTON — “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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