Beitzel's early career consisted of umpiring Victorian Football League matches, of which he officiated in 182 senior games (including the 1955 Grand Final) from 1948 to 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 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. He 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.
In October 1994, Beitzel was sentenced to 18 months jail, with a minimum of eight months to be served, after pleading guilty to obtaining financial advantage by deception over matters related to his work for a lottery organisation. He served his sentence initially at Pentridge Prison and then at the open, minimum-security Morwell River Prison Farm. Beitzel strenuously denied that he had ever intentionally committed a crime.
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. He followed this 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.)
Honours and recognition
Beitzel has three daughters and a son. He lives in Sydney with his second wife, Karolyn.
- Cherny, Daniel (12 December 2014). "Harry Beitzel critically ill in Sydney". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
- http://www.aussierulesinternational.com/home/world/europe/ireland/international_rules/croke_park_had_never_seen_anything_like_it "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.