BY RYAN HATHAWAY // MAY 11, 2015 //
As Professor Bill Littlefield prepared to conclude his final semester at Curry College, he remained the same humorous yet humble storyteller he has long been.
A graduate of Yale University and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Littlefield is a published author, a sportswriter, and host of WBUR’s “Only a Game.” He has taught in the Humanities division at Curry since 1976, has served as “writer-in-residence” since 1984, and is retiring from the college at semester’s end.
Littlefield was honored last month at his longtime namesake lecture series at Curry. Recent keynote speakers have included former Boston Globe sports writer Bob Ryan and NFL Network correspondent Andrea Kremer, as well as novelists, playwrights and others storytellers.
Through the many accolades offered, Littlefield sat with a steadfast expression, silently twiddling his thumbs and focusing his gaze on the table before him. Like most journalists, Littlefield seemed uncomfortable being the focus of attention.
Religion and philosophy professor Alan Revering, president of Curry’s faculty union, presented Littlefield with a plaque in recognition of his work with the union and as an educator. Littlefield was one of the founding members and a former president of the faculty union at Curry.
Sociology professor Ann Levin, who worked closely with Littlefield in launching the American Association of University Professors chapter at Curry, praised her longtime colleague for his courage, voice and integrity. “Bill is a critical and astute thinker who inspires people to see sports and the rest of life as more than a game,” she said.
Finally, Academic Vice President Emeritus David Fedo introduced Littlefield. He described Littlefield as “first a writer, then a sportswriter,” and noted that his “determined leadership fostered change at Curry.”
Littlefield thanked Fedo and senior administrative assistant Paula Cabral for organizing the evening. He then spent the rest of the night doing what he has done throughout his career: telling stories.
“In many ways, Curry has been an inspirational force in my life,” he said.
Littlefield spoke of the influence the late sportswriter W.C. Heinz played in his life. The two were friends, and following Heinz’s passing his daughter asked Littlefield to edit a collection of her father’s work. The book, “The Top of the His Game. The Best Sportswriting of W.C. Heinz,” was published earlier this year.
Littlefield said his favorite story was Heinz’s “The Death of a Racehorse,” which he read aloud to an audience filled with Curry colleagues and students. He marveled at the quality and detail of the writing, which was done on deadline for The Sun newspaper in New York in 1949.
Littlefield later offered advice to the many young writers in the audience. After 39 years of teaching, he wasn’t done sharing his wisdom.
“Try to find the thing that grabs you,” he said. “Write a lot, and read a lot, and find the kind of writing that amazes you.”
Littlefield closed the evening with his particular style of humor. He thanked everyone involved, and then announced, “I think it’s time to go home and feed the dog.”