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Thanksgiving Memories For 'Only A Game'03:44
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This time for giving thanks has Bill Littlefield recalling some of his adventures as host of Only A Game.

How would I have been able to spend time in 2010 with Frederick Wiseman, the exceptionally prolific and accomplished documentary film-maker, if not for Only A Game? Mr. Wiseman made a film titled "Boxing Gym." I'm no fan of boxing, but I'm a fan of Wiseman, who turned out to be as fascinating as I'd hoped he'd be, whether or not we were talking about that film.

Without the program as a calling card, I'd never have met and developed a friendship with W.C. Heinz, author of "MASH" and countless memorable stories set in sports, a great writer who turned out to be a generous and gentle reader of whatever I sent him, and a wonderful friend as well.

Maybe somewhere there's somebody with more cause to be thankful for his or her work: a professional ice cream taster, perhaps, or a mattress-tester whose job requires frequent naps.

I've enjoyed finding out what Charlie Pierce thinks about all sorts of things. I've also talked soccer with New York Times veteran George Vecsey, basketball with columnist Bob Ryan, baseball with ESPN's Tim Kurkjian, hockey with Hall of Fame writer Helene Elliott, and pro football with Paul Attner, late of the Sporting News, who feigned astonishment whenever I said anything halfway bright about the game he covered. It was a sad day for Only A Game when Paul retired ... or at least it was a sad day for me.

I've watched Serena Williams play tennis in Rome. At the time I was sitting beside Bud Collins, AKA Mr. Tennis, one of the most gracious and giving of men.

Fifteen years ago I sat on the bench of the Roxbury Community College men's basketball team, some of whom taught me something about what it meant to be the first members of their families to attend college.

[sidebar title="Bob Ryan, A True 'Scribe'" width="630" align="right"]Last month, Bob Ryan joined Only A Game to talk about his new book, "Scribe." [/sidebar]

I've interviewed MVPs and Hall-of-Famers, but I've also discussed Ted Williams with Donald Hall and traded verses about games with Robert Pinsky, each a poet laureate.

I've visited wiffle ball tournaments, and I've gotten close enough to an underwater rugby match to come away wet. I've learned from sled hockey players how terrific and committed athletes can remain terrific and committed athletes after they've lost the use of their legs. I've looked Zippy Chippy in the eye and seen that he's not the least bit embarrassed that he entered 100 horse races and never won.

Over the past couple of decades, we've chronicled the growing opportunities girls and women have been enjoying in sports, and Only A Game has been going long enough so that now some of the women with whom we talk take for granted circumstances their predecessors couldn't have imagined, which is progress, albeit not enough progress yet.

Maybe somewhere there's somebody with more cause to be thankful for his or her work: a professional ice cream taster, perhaps, or a mattress-tester whose job requires frequent naps. But maybe not.

Bill Littlefield Twitter Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.

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