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Jerry Lindquist's Sports Memories: Former WWE referee Dave Hebner, of Mechanicsville, died this summer

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World Wrestling Federation referees from Mechanicsville, Virginia. At left: Dave Hebner has his son-in-law Mike Sparks in a headlock. At right, Hebner's brother, Earl Hebner, puts the hold on his son, Brian Hebner.

The memory man strikes again with a bunch of stuff. This is Volume 94: Going Long and Short.

Apologies are in order. We missed the passing of Dave Hebner, 73, who was better known world-wide than Richmond, which happened to be his hometown.

Hebner worked as a pro ‘rasslin referee for more than five decades and was involved in several memorable matches considered classics. At Wrestlemania III (1987), Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage had an unofficial-record 22 false finishes with Hebner never quite getting to a count of three. A year later twin brother Earl made his WWF (now WWE) debut with a storyline that led ringside TV commentator Jesse “The Body” Ventura to ask, “How can there be two Dave Hebners?” (Scripted, of course.)

Earl Hebner, who worked 73-year-old “Nature Boy” Ric Flair’s last match July 31, is best known as third man for the infamous “Montreal Screw Job” in 1997. Bret Hart was supposed to beat Shawn Michaels but, on orders from WWE boss Vince McMahon, Hebner gave Michaels the win with a quick (phantom) 1-2-3 on Hart, who previously announced he was joining rival (at the time) WCW.

Dave Hebner began his rasslin’ career in the mid-Atlantic area, working for Jim Crockett Promotions in a variety of jobs including setting up the ring at the Richmond Coliseum and elsewhere. He later served as a road agent for WWE. From 2005 until 2012, Dave was a referee in TNA (Total Non-stop Action).

In 2016 he was involved in a lawsuit against WWE. Among 50 plaintiffs was James Harris (known as Kamala, the Ugandan Giant). The suit was dismissed in 2018.

Hebner died June 17 at his home in Mechanicsville after suffering from Parkinson’s Disease for several years.

The New York Yankees reportedly dumped several minor-league players recently … but they haven’t given up on Aaron McGarity, and the righthander from Richmond by way of Virginia Tech certainly hasn’t given up on himself. He still sounds confident despite recurring arm trouble that led to Tommy John surgery a year ago.

“I had a little inflammation of the elbow [recently],“ McGarity said last week from Somerset, N.Y., where he’s throwing primarily short relief for the Yankees’ AA farm team. “I missed a couple of weeks, but I’ve been back at – and everything is going well.”

In eight appearances, all in relief, he was 3-0, 2.25, striking out 17 and walking three in 12 innings – all good. And he’s among the organization’s top five throwers in one of the many metrics used by most teams to analyze performance, which is also good. “They’re telling me they all my stuff is doing well, but they’d like for me to throw a little harder,” McGarity said.

He’s lost a few MPH on his fastball, down to 91-92, but his other deliveries have been effective which is probably why the Yankees haven’t pulled the plug even though, at 27, he’s on the vintage side for someone who hasn’t been to the big leagues.

Fittingly, we found him on the golf course, on an off day, smacking the little white ball with some teammates. McGarity excused himself long enough to tee one up, and the “THWOCK” of club meeting Titleist brought applause, “Down the middle,” he said, returning to his cellphone.

It was at Sycamore Creek Golf Course here that we first talked to McGarity a few summers ago when all minor leagues were shut down because of the pandemic. He was working part-time there while waiting for his baseball career to resume.

Somerset and the Richmond Flying Squirrels will meet in the post-season playoffs by virtue of winning the first half of their respective divisions. After that? McGarity isn’t sure, Based on a conversation with the organization’s pitching director, it’s unlikely he’ll play winter ball.

“I’ll probably take six to eight weeks off then work on velocity buildup and strength training,” McGarity said.

The Yankees still think he can reach the big leagues? “They aren’t ready to kick me to the curb,” he said, “I’m not too worried about my position … at least not yet. If I can keep pitching the way I have been … and gain a mile or two on my fastball … things will be great.”

It took 50 years but we finally read the late Donald Davidson’s autobiography (sort of) “Caught Short.” Davidson, all 48 inches tall of him, was one of baseball’s all-time characters who spent his entire major-league life with the Braves organization. From Boston to Milwaukee to Atlanta.

Donald knew everyone, and everyone knew Donald, a tough, feisty, hard-living traveling secretary most of his career. He had a million stories … many of which he didn’t mind repeating … off the record, of course. He was a hoot.

Sadly, Davidson chose a different path for what should have been a best-selling tell-all and, instead, turned out to be little more than 177 pages devoted primarily to lots (and lots) of name dropping and few real insights to his unique life. It proved to be one of those reads where you had such high expectations that never came close to being met.

A big BOO to co-author, the late Jesse Outlar, veteran Atlanta sports writer/editor who came from the journalism school where never is heard a discouraging word. Donald would have been better served by Furman Bisher, Outlar’s confrontational rival. He wouldn’t have cheated the reader with nothing but Mr. Nice Guy – which Donald could be but not to everyone as “Caught Short” would have us believe.

In seven years covering the Braves top farm team here, I recall one memorable eye-witness incident involving Davidson. He and Rico Carty, a 6-4, 250 pound outfielder, got into a shouting match in which Donald – not surprisingly – held his own despite the obvious size disparity. It was borderline comical except there was no mistaking the seriousness when Carty finally shouted “If you were bigger, I’d beat the [censored] out of you” … and walked away.

Amateur night in Dixie revisited … the ACC Network’s home-movie-like look at Virginia’s Cavaliers during its pre-season football series. What a disorganized mess! Best thing tri-hosts Kelsey Riggs, EJ Manuel and former Virginia Tech wideout Eddie Royal did was smile and laugh a lot for most of the hour, start to finish.

To think the episode was repeated three times during the morning slot formerly held by “Packer and Durham,” which was live and very good. By the way, it has been brought to our attention that the four-year-old show was canceled because Wes Durham didn’t want to do it any more. He cited a busy schedule that figured to get busier. Like his late father Woody, long-time voice of the North Carolina Tar Heels, Wes is about as good as there is at play by play – basketball as well as football.

Mark Packer, Billy’s boy, now works with assorted newcomers (all learning on the job, it seems) on live talkfests. The only resemblance to Packer-and-Durham is the location, the basement at his residence in Charlotte. “ACC PM” – live three hours 4 to 7 weekdays – is among several ensemble shows (“ACC Huddle” and “In Play”) that dominate programming along with game replays. Surely Virginia Tech fans couldn’t wait for the noon Sept. 5 repeat of the Old Dominion season opener.

In his first season as Virginia football coach, Tony Elliott didn’t have to check game film to know how close the Cavaliers came to joining Virginia Tech on the season-opening embarrassment list of Power 5 schools. Like the rest of us, the former Clemson offensive coordinator saw three keys plays that could have turned a 17-point win over Richmond.

A fourth-down pass by the Spiders inside the UVA five yard line was ruled incomplete even though replay clearly showed the definitive description of defensive interference, leading the ACC’s TV duo to agree: “They got away with one right there.”

Virginia fumbled the ball into the end zone then got it back for a touchdown … after one of the game officials – the umpire to be exact – stopped the ball with his foot, inadvertently preventing UR from an easy recovery.

Then there was a fourth-and-one run by the Spiders that was stuffed for no gain in Cavalier territory. Later Russ Huesman, the UR coach, said it was a bad call. You think?

For the record: The Redskins by any other name are still the Redskins. They’ll win eight, maybe nine (if they’re lucky) despite an easy schedule – based on last year’s play which doesn’t mean much or shouldn’t on the pro level. The defense still is among the worst on third down, and the offense still doesn’t have enough big-time weapons.

While we’re at it; Buffalo will lose the Super Bowl, this time on a makeable field goal that goes … wide left. And Bills’ coach, William & Mary alumnus Sean McDermott, gets condolences from former Bills (and W&M) coach Marv Levy (age 97). And somewhere Scott Norwood, JMU alum of wide-right infamy, says: “They can’t blame this one on me … can they?”

Until next time ...



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