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Anderson and Lia a pair of Lakers through and through

(This will be the first of three installments on the first class of the Detroit Lakes Hall of Honor, which will be inducted at an Oct. 4 ceremony. The nine-person class includes Ralph Anderson, Andy Lia, Jack Campbell, Dave Nelson, Rich Borstad, Todd Jorgenson, Craig Fredrickson, Jeni Jost (Gunderson), and JeNelle Johnson).

When the first class of the Detroit Lakes Hall of Honor was being decided on this past spring, there were some easy choices to be made.

Two of those names have been a consistent part of Laker athletics for the good part of a half a century.

Longtime Detroit Lakes Newspapers sports editor Ralph Anderson was a staple in Detroit Lakes athletic lore, being the pen for the Lakers for 47 years.

If there ever was a living Laker encyclopedia, Anderson was it.

Anderson, who passed away in 2002, joins another Laker media legend in the first class of the Hall of Honor -- the "Voice of the Lakers," Andy Lia.

The KDLM radio announcer has done much more than just put Laker games out on the airwaves, he has been a staunch supporter of DL teams since 1980. He also had a three-year radio stint from 1975-78 in DL, putting his tenure at a solid 30 years.

"Both Ralph and Andy are what Laker athletics are about," said DL head football coach Flint Motschenbacher, who grew up in Lake Park reading Anderson and listening to Lia.

"Their professionalism was tops and more important, both were very good and nice guys. Everybody associated with Detroit Lakes knows about Andy and Ralph."

Time also hasn't forgotten.

Joining Anderson and Lia in the Hall of Honor is 1953 graduate Jack "Soup" Campbell, who was an elite three-sport athlete for the Lakers.

Ralph Anderson

In 1952, a dynasty was started in Detroit Lakes with the arrival of Ralph Anderson, who started as the sports editor at the Becker County Record.

During his 47 years at the paper, Anderson touched hundreds, if not thousands, of lives with his writings.

His thoroughness and non-critical style of writing were like no other.

"That was what was best about Ralph," Motschenbacher said. "He wasn't ever critical of a coach or any of the players."

But what Anderson was known for more was his ironclad memory.

"He had his office at our home in the basement and he just had boxes and boxes of information," said Ralph's son, Tom Anderson. "At night, you could hear his typewriter clicking away. His steel-trap mind could remember who had a 100-yard game rushing 10 years ago."

Anderson has already been inducted into several Minnesota sports Halls of Fame, but his inclusion in the DL Hall of Honor will be an extra special one -- which will go nicely with the honor of the DLHS Gym bearing his name.

"It's an extreme honor for the family," Tom Anderson said. "Ralph is very deserving. He was a very unassuming person, who just loved his job. It was a lifelong passion of his, a true passion and he took a tremendous amount of pride covering the individuals and events he did in Detroit Lakes."

Lia, who worked with Anderson throughout the years, said he touched many lives and no one forgot about it.

"We were buds," Lia said. "We sat next to each other at the scoring table at all the games. Usually when people asked me about something about the Lakers or the history, I always told them to go talk to Ralph, because he would know."

Andy Lia

It is more than suitable that Lia and Anderson enter the inaugural class of the DL Hall of Honor together.

Like Anderson, Lia and Laker Red and White go hand in hand.

If there is a big game to be played by the Lakers, you are sure to see and hear Lia on the sidelines giving top-notch play-by-play.

When Hall of Honor committee member Mark Hagen needed names to start working with for the first class, he went to Lia.

"Mark asked me to bring up some names for the first Hall of Honor class and I gave him a list of about 15-20 -- of course, mine wasn't on there," Lia said with a laugh. "I was surprised when I heard I made it."

Lia has covered every other name on the list except for Campbell, Rich Borstad and Dave Nelson. But he was in high school in Detroit Lakes when both Campbell and Borstad were playing.

So, in essence, he grew up a Laker from the get-go.

"Andy is a Laker through and through," Motschenbacher said.

Since 1980, Lia has virtually called every Laker football game, making him as consistent as snow in January in Minnesota.

Lia resides in Detroit Lakes with his wife Sandy.

"It's been a long time and a lot of games," Lia said. "You just have to enjoy what you do, and I enjoy what I do. I enjoy all the sports and seeing all the games and athletes.

"It's been fun over the years."

Jack 'Soup' Campbell

For 17 years, Jack "Soup" Campbell held the DL boys' basketball scoring record, with 805 points.

But the hardwood wasn't the only arena where he excelled.

Campbell was an elite pitcher in baseball and also a bruising fullback in football from 1951-53.

"It is hard to believe there are still people that remember my accomplishments after 55 to 60 years," said Campbell in a letter to Hagen. "I was very lucky to have had three outstanding coaches -- Odis LeGrand in baseball (American Legion), Marv Helling in football and basketball and Ted Anderson in high school baseball."

As a 12-year-old, Campbell went 8-1 on the mound for the American Junior Legion team, which was made up mostly of 17-year-olds.

In the regional final, Campbell became the youngest player in the 1948 state tournament in St. Paul, as he just turned 13 years old before it started.

Campbell's crowing moment came after he made the winning shot in the last three seconds of the district final basketball tournament against Moorhead, at North Dakota State University in 1952.

"The play leading to the winning shot had been practiced for several days prior to that game," Campbell recalled.

Campbell resides in Ukiah, Calif., with his wife Judy.