Harold Barton "Hal" Windell did a balancing act of fighting fires and earning respect as one of the finest umpires to ever call strikes in Fresno. Windell retired as a captain for the Fresno Fire Department after thirty-two years of service. His umpiring career stretched to nearly a half century. Born and raised in Fresno, Windell got his baseball baptism at Fresno High from 1926 to 1929 as a catcher. That was his position as a player for the Warriors, the Fresno Acorns, and two Fresno Twilight League teams until 1939 when Fresno Tech coach Pop Warner asked him to umpire a game.
During the war years, Windell umpired games in the military league where rosters contained many former and future professional players. That was no picnic, but Windell earned respect for his consistent calling and his gentlemanly way of dealing with players. Rules Stickler, Erwin Ginsburg, who was supervisor for officials in the northern Central Section of the CIF for eighteen years and, perhaps the greatest authority when it came to the rules book, praised Windell's work. Ginsburg told Fresno Bee columnist Omer Crane in 1974: "He's the best man we've got at the plate. Hal's never had a protest that I can remember, and I honestly can't recall he ever had to eject any kid out of a game. He's respected by coaches as much today as he was twenty years ago. He does it quietly, inconspicuously." In the same column, Windell told Crane he never made a makeup call. "If I do, then I've missed two."
Windell could have boasted that he was certainly the Valley's and maybe the state's senior umpire except he was not the boasting type. He was an honest and devout Christian. In total, he called close to 3,000 games. Not bad for a man who said umpiring was a wonderful hobby.