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

Super Bowl 100: A Look Into The Future

February 13, 2016
The Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50, but who will take home the Lombardi Trophy in 2016? Steve Rushin has the answer. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Super Bowl 50 is in the past and Super Bowl 100 is in the future, except for Steve Rushin of SI.com. In a “Special Report From The Future,” Rushin imagines the 100th edition of the game — one featuring teams from two countries and players of various genders.

‘This Is Your Brain On Sports’ Looks At The Psychology Of Our Games

February 13, 2016
Why is the t-shirt cannon such an effective promotion? L. Jon Wertheim and Sam Sommers attempt to answer this question in their book, "This Is Your Brain on Sports" (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Why do sports fans do and say the things they do? Tufts professor Sam Sommers and Sports Illustrated editor L. Jon Wertheim attempt to find out in their new book, “This is Your Brain on Sports.” The pair shared some of their findings with Bill Littlefield.

All Eyes On Roger Goodell This NFL Offseason

February 13, 2016
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 05:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a press conference prior to Super Bowl 50 at the Moscone Center West on February 5, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spent the 2015 offseason attempting to punish Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for his role in what’s become known as “Deflategate.” Bill Littlefield speculates what Goodell has up his sleeves to make sure the spotlight stays on the NFL during the 2016 offseason.

Super Bowl 50 Through The Eyes Of An $11 Hot Dog Vendor

February 13, 2016
Thousands of workers were bused into Levi's Stadium to make Super Bowl 50 possible. Gabriel Thompson worked concessions at the big game: he says for all their planning, the NFL they didn't do enough for their hourly workers. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Freelance journalist Gabriel Thompson experienced Super Bowl 50 from a different perspective: as a concessions worker helping to keep fans fed during the prime-time spectacle. Thompson shares what it’s like to be a low-wage worker for the NFL.

WWE Wrestler Daniel Bryan Pinned By Concussions

February 10, 2016
WWE wrestler Daniel Bryan announced his retirement from the sport this past week due to concussions. (Jonathan Bachman/AP Images for WWE)

This week Deadspin editor Timothy Burke wrote that “the scripted world of pro wrestling cares more about its athletes’ brains than the NFL does.” Bill Littlefield investigates what led Burke to come to that conclusion.

Super Bowl Haiku XXII

February 06, 2016
Super Bowl 50 is here--Only A Game has the haiku to match. (Mike Windle/Getty Images)

Our 22nd edition of Super Bowl Haiku is a winner. Would it be an exaggeration to suggest the game will be an anti-climax? You decide.

‘The Game’s Not Over’ Seeks Middle Ground In Football Debate

February 06, 2016
A detail shot of the hands of a football player during the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The Panthers won 38-10 to clinch home field advantage for the playoffs  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

In an increasingly polarized debate over the merits of American football, Gregg Easterbrook tries to present a middle position in his new book “The Game’s Not Over: In Defense of Football.”

Super Bowl 50: A Game Of Numbers

February 03, 2016
Betting sheets like this one from the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino allow bettors to out their money on anything and everything related to Sunday's game. (Photo Illustration by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Super Bowl is all about numbers … or at least that’s the way Bill Littlefield has come to see it.

‘In Football We Trust’ Explores The NFL’s ‘Polynesian Pipeline’

January 30, 2016
Current BYU linebacker Harvey Langi hopes to add his name to the list of NFL players of Polynesian descent. His story is detailed in the documentary "In Football We Trust." 
AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Many current and former NFL players are of Polynesian descent. The PBS documentary “In Football We Trust” tells the stories of high school football players from Utah who hope to one day ride that so-called “Polynesian Pipeline” into the NFL. Tony Vainuku, the film’s director, joins Bill Littlefield.

Why Donald Trump Will Be The Next FIFA President

January 30, 2016
Elections for the new president of FIFA are coming up in just under a month. Could Donald Trump be suited for the job? (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

While the U.S. Presidential hopefuls are getting ready for the first primary ballots to be cast, another heavily contested election is heating up across the globe — the race to replace Sepp Blatter as head of FIFA. Bill Littlefield examines the parallels between the two contests.

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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