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

As Yankees Start Offseason, CC Sabathia Starts Recovery

October 07, 2015
Minnesota Twins v New York Yankees

On Sunday, hours before the New York Yankees played their final game of the regular season, pitcher CC Sabathia told his manager, “I need help.” Bill Littlefield is among those wishing the former Cy Young winner a healthy future.

‘Pine Tar Game’ Explores The Aftermath Of A Contested Home Run

October 03, 2015
Kansas City Royals Vice President of Baseball Oper

Baseball players use pine tar on wooden bats for better grip. It’s legal — and yet pine tar was at the crux of one of baseball’s most memorable temper tantrums. Filip Bondy’s “The Pine Tar Game” explores this infamous event.

Basketball Meets The CIA In Uganda

October 03, 2015
US President George Bush (L) shares a jo

The story of Jay Mullen — CIA agent turned basketball coach — starts at a small women’s college in 1970 and ends up in Uganda at a basketball game during the Cold War. Journalist Shaun Raviv joined Bill Littlefield to help tell Mullen’s story.

Put ‘Em Up, Lemme At Him: Fighting In Sports

September 30, 2015
Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals

Teammates can sometimes push things a little too far. On Sunday, two members of the Washington Nationals traded blows in the dugout. For Bill Littlefield, images of the fight brought back memories of fisticuffs past.

Remembering Yogi Berra: The Fork In The Road

September 26, 2015
Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra passed away this week. Bill remembers sitting down with him for an interview in 1998. (Jeff Zelevansky/AP)

When Hall of Famer Yogi Berra talked about taking that fork in the road, he wasn’t being metaphorical. Bill talks about meeting Berra and what made Yogi so…Yogi.

‘Saban’ Sheds Light On College Football’s Premier Coach

September 26, 2015

Other college football coaches envy his success. His recruits love him. And yet he never seems to be satisfied with his results. Monte Burke’s biography “Saban: The Making of a Coach” examines what drives Nick Saban. Burke joins Bill Littlefield.

WNBA’s Liberty Focus On Defense — Not Distractions — During Playoffs

September 26, 2015
New York Liberty center Avery Warley says players are focusing on their game. That focus shows. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

When former player and failed New York Knicks GM Isiah Thomas was hired as the President of the WNBA’s Liberty, critics predicted a tough season ahead. But the team had their best-ever regular season and is powering through the playoffs. Bill Littlefield has the story.

Prepare For The Curse Of Ragnar

September 23, 2015
Detroit Lions v Minnesota Vikings

It’s been almost 40 years since the Minnesota Vikings reached the Super Bowl. Bill Littlefield worries that with the recent firing of the team’s beloved mascot, Ragnar, it might be another 40 more.

From The Archives: A Conversation With Yogi Berra

September 23, 2015
Yogi Berra (AP/File)

Yogi Berra died Tuesday at the age of 90. “He bore with such grace and good humor the mantle of master of the malapropism.” writes Bill Littlefield, who spoke with Berra in 1998. Listen here to that conversation from our archives.

Letters From OAG Listeners

September 19, 2015
(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Listeners had a wide variety of reactions to our story last week about cheerleaders working to unionize. Bill Littlefield has some of those responses, plus a fantastical prediction about fantasy sports.

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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