Harry Beitzel (born Henry John Beitzel on 6 April 1927) is an Australian sports broadcaster and media personality best known for his contribution to Australian rules football.
Beitzel's early career consisted of umpiring Victorian Football League matches, of which he officiated in 182 between 1948–1960. After an operation on his achilles tendon, Beitzel regained fitness and intended to continue umpiring, but instead took up a role in the media for the 1961 season. He joined radio station 3KZ as a replacement for Jack Mueller.
Beitzel also continued to broadcast football games on radio. At 3KZ he teamed up again with Tommy Lahiff to form a much–loved combination. “Are you there, Tommy?” Beitzel would ask, to which Lahiff would invariably reply from the dressing room: “Can you hear me, Harry?” First at 3KZ, then at 3AW, 3AK and finally 3WRB, their on air partnership lasted more than three decades. Beitzel later covered football for 3AW, 3AK and the ABC radio stations, as well as writing for the Herald Sun, The Truth, The Sunday Telegraph and The Australian. He also worked on television for the ABC and the Nine Network, and is regarded as a pioneer in the field of broadcasting – his innovations included the introduction of statistics during broadcasts of matches, as well as comprehensive previews and reviews of games, a format which is still popular today.
In 2005, Beitzel rejoined 3AW as a semi-regular contributor to Rex Hunt's pre-match show. For some years, Beitzel has filed his popular Footy Week section each week with the Melbourne Observer newspaper.
International rules football
Beitzel is also credited with pioneering the development of the composite rules sport International rules football. He drew inspiration from watching the 1966 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final on television, and in 1967 sent an Australian side – "The Galahs" – to play the game against an Irish side. Beitzel followed this up the next year with The Australian Football World Tour, a six-match series with games played against Irish teams in Ireland, the UK and United States. (The 1968 Galahs also played exhibition matches of Australian Rules throughout the tour, including a game in Bucharest, Romania.)
Beitzel also worked as a promoter for Soccer Pools, giving advice to winners after toasting their success with glasses of champagne. In January 1991, he was arrested after police alleged he defrauded a Melbourne couple of their $1.8 million Soccer Pools winnings. It was alleged that Beitzel fraudulently induced the couple, to invest their winnings with a dishonest financial advisor. Beitzel allegedly conspired with Neil Robert Russell to cheat and defraud the couple of their money, to have misinterpreted details to them and, unauthorised, used their money to finance a property deal by deception and conspiracy to defraud between 31 August and 11 November 1986 and obtaining a financial advantage by deception.  Beitzel with his reputation tarnished was forced into bankruptcy. Unable to finance a legal defence he pleaded guilty to obtaining financial advantage by deception over matters related to his work for a lottery organisation. In October 1994 Beitzel was sentenced to 18 months jail, with a minimum of eight months to be served.
Beitzel strenuously denied that he had ever intentionally committed a crime.
Honours and recognition
- 'Croke Park had never seen anything like it'
- Inductees – 2000, MCG, 1 January 2000. Accessed 12 November 2006.
- 'Big H' enters Hall, Matt Burgan, 22 June 2006. Accessed 12 November 2006.