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Only a Game, Only a Game, 0803260016, 0-8032-6001-6, 978-0-8032-6001-6, 9780803260016, Bill Littlefield , , Only a Game, 0803215843, 0-8032-1584-3, 978-0-8032-1584-9, 9780803215849, Bill Littlefield , , Only a Game, 0803266685, 0-8032-6668-5, 978-0-8032-6668-1, 9780803266681, Bill Littlefield , , Only a Game, 0803266693, 0-8032-6669-3, 978-0-8032-6669-8, 9780803266698, Bill Littlefield

Only a Game
Bill Littlefield

2007. 156 pp.
$16.95 t

It’s only a game, Bill Littlefield’s National Public Radio program tells us, trying to keep sports in perspective. And for all the deadly serious perspectives of sports commentators and fans, Littlefield’s is perhaps the most realistic. It is certainly the most entertaining. Sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, Littlefield’s take on the games people play is as refreshing as it is enlightening. From baseball Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett’s untimely death, to pickup soccer games among misfit high-schoolers, to the most obscure nicknames and unusual mascots in college sports, the book collects memorable commentaries from Littlefield’s popular NPR sports show as well as never-before-published essays. No matter the topic, Littlefield illuminates the dark corners and unlikely angles of sports with wry good humor and a lightly worn expertise that lets nothing pass.

Bill Littlefield has been the host of the syndicated National Public Radio sports show Only a Game since 1993. He teaches a course in the Humanities Division at Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts, where he also serves as writer-in-residence. Littlefield is the author of several books, including Baseball Days and Champions: Stories of Ten Remarkable Athletes.

"A rare reading experience . . . a book that travels on many levels of fine writing . . . the history of a time—not just in sport—and an exploration of human nature."—W. C. Heinz

“For me, the problem with sports is sports commentary, which so often combines jingoism, sanctimoniousness, and stupidity. Bill Littlefield is a shining exception, a person I can read and listen to with pleasure. He talks about games with a sense of proportion and an adult’s sense of humor.”—Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Soul of a New Machine and My Detachment

“So a guy comes into the shop and says the driver's side seat in his Volvo is wobbly. We stick one of your books under the seat, bill him $400.00, and everybody's happy. You got any more books?”—Tom and Ray Magliozzi (aka Click and Clack), National Public Radio's program Car Talk

“‘Voice is a rare quality in writing. It's more than sound or style—it's the presence of the writer on the page, the unmistakable signature of selfhood. His writer's voice comes through on every page and makes reading this collection a delightful experience.”—Jack Beatty, senior editor of the Atlantic Monthly and News Analyst for National Public Radio's program On Point

“Bill Littlefield is a little oasis for the authors he interviews, a place to stop and be refreshed in the greater understanding of another. His literary intelligence and passion shine through all he writes and says.”—Michael Lewis, author of The Blind Side and Moneyball

“Using rhyme and reason in equal measure to extol the joys of river swimming, opening day at Fenway or skiing with his daughters, Bill Littlefield’s delightful collection of columns trains a wry and kindly eye on a world filled with rogues, athletes, and everyday heroes, sometimes all three at once.”—Madeleine Blais, author of In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle

“How wonderful to have that voice we love—all at once wry, brash and darn near profound—captured on the page and always at hand. Littlefield has an uncanny talent for seeing the mischief behind the obvious and for being right.”—Elinor Lipman, author of My Latest Grievance and The Inn at Lake Devine

“Littlefield isn’t merely a voice of sanity in the overly critical, overly hyped world of sports, he’s also a fine writer whose wry essays explore the pains and pleasures of fandom, the perseverance of great athletes in lesser-known sports like women’s ice hockey, and the intersection of sports and family. Littlefield blends a love of sports with a healthy perspective, a yearning to look at sports as one part of a life, but not the only part. . . . The author’s love of sports is abundant, but it’s an adult kind of love. In his final essay, Littlefield lyrically explains why sports are so beloved: ‘It is for the temporary connection to beauty that the game offers: the beauty of the perfect move, selected and executed for its own sake; the joy of the marriage of talent and skills developed from hard practice. It’s an image that celebrates life.’ Only a Game does the same.”—Boston Globe

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