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

‘Year Of The Dunk’ Extends Above The Rim

August 29, 2015
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Having beaten cancer and entering into his mid-30s, Asher Price set out on a quest to dunk a basketball for the first time in his life. Price chronicles that year-long journey in his book, “The Year of the Dunk: A Modest Defiance of Gravity.” The author joins Bill Littlefield to discuss his attempt and to share what he learned.

Sports’ Most Difficult — And Stunning — Act?

August 26, 2015
Is dunking a basketball more difficult than scoring a hole-in-one or landing a flip on a balance beam? (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The best athletes make everything they do look effortless. Bill Littlefield asks: which athletic feat is most impressive?

Littlefield: A Transistor Radio, A Baseball Bat And A Childhood Memory

August 22, 2015
Bill Littlefield remembers when he helped the San Francisco Giants manufacture a comeback. Bill was batting for the players in his bedroom. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

To cap off this week’s “Time Show,” Bill Littlefield recalls a night listening to a New York Giants’ comeback on a transistor radio.

From MLB To Homeless: J.R. Richard Tells His Story In ‘Still Throwing Heat’

August 22, 2015
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J.R. Richard was a star pitcher for the Houston Astros in the ’70s, but his life changed forever when he suffered a stroke in 1980. He never pitched in MLB again and ended up living under bridge. In his new book “Still Throwing Heat,” Richard tells his story of overcoming homelessness.

Commentary: MLB Owners Change With The Times

August 22, 2015
MLB teams no longer sell seats on the field -- nevertheless, teams like the San Francisco Giants have found ways to make money: Forbes estimates the team is worth $2 billion. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Bill Littlefield recently stumbled upon some World Series photos from the early-1900s and noticed that teams used to pack fans into stadiums by selling seats on the field. Today’s owners no longer park fans in center field, but they’ve found other ways to maximize profit…

Preparing For Life After Sports

August 22, 2015
Professional athletes may make lots of money when they're playing, but what happens when they can no longer play the game that brought them their success? (Bill Wippert/AP)

Many pro athletes don’t think about life after sports until it’s too late. Others plan ahead. Bill Littlefield talks to retired athletes who fell on both ends of the spectrum — and finds out what one league is doing to better prepare its players for the future.

Debate Over Participation Trophies Heats Up

August 19, 2015
James Harrison had to work to earn the Vince Lombardi trophy when he helped the Pittsburgh Steelers win the Super Bowl. He stripped his two kids of their participation trophies this week because they didn't 'earn' them. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Steeler James Harrison ordered his children, ages 8 and 6, to return trophies they’d received for participating in a program designed to teach them teamwork. His rationale was that they hadn’t won anything, so they shouldn’t get trophies. Bill Littlefield doesn’t agree.

‘The Reappearing Act’ Shares Fagan’s Experience Coming Out In Paranoid World Of College Athletics

August 15, 2015
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‘The Reappearing Act’ chronicles now-ESPNW writer Kate Fagan’s experience playing Division I college basketball on a team filled with born-again Christians. She shares her story with Bill Littlefield.

Mo Englander: 80-Years-Old But Still Throwing Strikes For His Son

August 15, 2015
Matt Englander and his father Morris "Mo" Englander compete together in a slow-pitch softball league in Boston. (Bill Littlefield/Only A Game)

Mo Englander used to pitch for a team of seniors in Quincy, Mass. But the squad disbanded. Now he pitches for a new team: his son’s. Bill Littlefield has the story.

Commentary: Rousey Vs. Mayweather Should Remain A Verbal Fight

August 12, 2015
Ronda Rousey thinks she can take Floyd Mayweather in a fight. She said so this week. (Getty Images)

With the two undefeated fighters exchanging words, there’s been talk of a showdown between UFC champ Ronda Rousey and boxer Floyd Mayweather. Bill Littlefield reasons that such a fight would never, ever occur — but, then again, maybe it could…

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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