|Alma mater||Washington & Jefferson College|
Scholastic sports administrator
|Home town||North Side, Pittsburgh|
|Awards||WPIAL Hall of Fame (2007)
W&J Hall of Fame (2007)
Charles "Chuck" "Ace" Heberling is a former National Football League official and Western Pennsylvania sports administrator. Perhaps most famously, he was the referee for both the Hail Mary Game (famed for the game-winning touchdown pass from Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson) and The Drive. In addition, he was an alternate for the officiating crew for Super Bowl XXI. He and his wife Jane have four children.
He has been described as "the man who has had the greatest impact on high school athletics in western Pennsylvania in the 100-year history."
Early life and education
A native of Pittsburgh, Heberling attended Perry High School in North Side neighborhood. He attended Washington & Jefferson College, graduating in 1949. There, he was a multi-sport athlete, letting three times in football, where he was a played running back alongside Melvin Bassi, Walter Cooper and “Deacon” Dan Towler, and three times in baseball, where he was a top starting pitcher. During World War II, he served as a fighter pilot in the United States Navy; it was there that he earned the nickname "Ace." Later, he worked as a teacher and coach of the football and basketball at East Washington High School. He also worked as a salesman for General Electric in Pittsburgh.
He worked as a football official in high school and college football for 15 years and basketball for 25 years.
He spent 23 years as an official in the National Football League, 16 years of which he spent as a crew chief. He spent another 14 years as an NFL observer. He was the referee for The Drive, one of the most famous events in professional football. Later, he was an alternate on the officiating crew for Super Bowl XIII and Super Bowl XXI. He was the replay official for Super Bowl XXIII[nb 1]
Leadership of WPIAL
In 1976, Heberling took over as executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL), which held supervisory control over scholastic sports in Western Pennsylvania. Under his leadership WPIAL grew from an organization being run from a basement into a well-respected and fiscally solvent sports organization, with a permanent headquarters, equality among the male and female sports, and a lucrative contract bringing the WPIAL high school football championship to cable television. He was a capable and headstrong executive, leading the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to say that he "...took a hard stand on many WPIAL issues and ran the league with a certain boldness that infuriated some school officials, coaches and members of the media." In 1986, he successfully secured the use of Three Rivers Stadium, and later Heinz Field, as the site of the WPIAL championships for all classes of WPIAL football. He retired from the in WPIAL in June 30, 1998 after 22 years.
- Tuma, Gary (February 2, 1989). "Super Bowl Calls Put Heberling and Bergman of the Spot". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Retrieved 2010-02-19.
- "Charles Heberling - 2002 - Football". Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-02-19.
- Lafferty, Tricia (May 2, 2007). "WPIAL Hall of Fame highlights league's heritage". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
- "Athletic Hall of Fame - Class of 2007". Washington & Jefferson College. Archived from the original on 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-02-19.
- Bechtel, Sam (June 29, 1976). "WPIAL Deals Itself an Ace". Beaver County Times. Retrieved 2012-02-19.
- White, Mike (August 27, 2006). "From humble beginnings, the WPIAL moves into its 100th year". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2012-02-19.
- Bouchette, Ed (January 23, 1987). "Greene Thumb May Get New Ring". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2012-02-19.
- Tuscano, Joe (Jun 17, 1998). "Saying Goodbye to Ace". Observer-Reporter. p. C1. Retrieved 2012-02-19.