Harry Beitzel (born Raymond Harold Beitzel on 29 November 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 3KZas a replacement for Jack Mueller.
Beitzel later covered football for
3AW, 3AKand 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.
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 Prisonand 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 Championshipfinal 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.)
In 2000, Beitzel was inducted into the
Melbourne Cricket Ground's Media Hall of Fame. [ [http://www.mcg.org.au/default.asp?pg=mediadisplay&articleid=518 Inductees - 2000] , MCG, 1 January 2000. Accessed 12 November 2006.] 2006 saw him inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fameas a Media inductee. [ [http://afl.com.au/default.asp?pg=feature&spg=display&articleid=275676 'Big H' enters Hall] , Matt Burgan, 22 June 2006. Accessed 12 November 2006.]
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