One of the best features of the weekly paper in my hometown, the Ortonville Independent, was a trawl through the paper’s archives. Each week, we’d get a rundown of what the news was in years gone by - usually for quarter-century milestones. (This was, of course, particularly exciting if you happened to have a milestone birthday that week.)

With this in mind, I decided to hit the archives, just to check out the Minnesota sports news for this date.

100 years ago: January 16, 1924

The day’s biggest news: Minneapolis Millers manager Mike Kelley said that he would be turning down Pittsburgh’s offer to send him first baseman Reb Russell*, even though Russell had hit 65 homers in parts of four seasons for the Millers between 1919 and 1922. Kelley’s reasoning was that he already had enough left-handed-hitting outfielders to add the 35-year-old Russell.

The slugger went to Columbus instead, and hit 55 homers over the next two American Association seasons, so you’d have to say that Kelley may have blundered on this one.

*You probably guessed this, but Russell was from Mississippi. His real name was Ewell.

Meanwhile, St. Paul Saints owner John Norton was reportedly trying to both sell the team, and also bring in a major-league first baseman as player-manager - reportedly future Hall of Famer Bill Terry, though the report correctly noted that New York Giants manager John McGraw would likely be unwilling to part with Terry. (Whoever he was after, he didn’t end up getting him.)

In hockey news, St. Paul beat Cleveland 2-1, with both goals coming from Frank “Moose” Goheen. This was, apparently, in the US Amateur Hockey Association, which St. Paul had won the year before; the Minneapolis Millers were about to make their debut in the league as well.

(There was like a half-century in Minnesota sports where every Minneapolis team was just nicknamed the Millers, and every St. Paul team was nicknamed the Saints. Baseball, hockey, basketball, probably some football teams somewhere; Millers vs. Saints was a year-long war on all fronts. The Lakers really broke the tradition, by not just calling themselves the Millers.)

Minneapolis mayor George E. Leach, who in addition to being mayor and a brigadier general in the National Guard, was also the manager of the U.S. Olympic Ski Team*, was put in charge of bidding for the 1932 Winter Olympics on behalf of Minneapolis. It didn’t work - the Games went to Lake Placid, NY - but Leach went on to be the national delegate to the conference that created the International Ski Federation.

*I’m sorry, but that sentence is absolutely insane, to the point that it sounds like it was written by AI.

The Minneapolis Daily Star reported that Michigan drew “almost $250,000” for its games in 1923, which “makes that sport almost as popular as professional boxing.”

St. Olaf started hockey practice for the season - on the frozen-over Cannon River.

The Sam Hastings rink, from Minneapolis, won its seventh match in a row at the Northwest Bonspiel in Eveleth; this was big news in both local papers.

75 years ago: January 16, 1949

Iowa basketball fans promised to be on their best behavior for the Gophers’ upcoming visit to Iowa City, after fans had rioted the year before - a riot that left Gophers center Chet Tomczyk with a broken nose, after he was sucker-punched by a spectator. Tomczyk, who’d also had his jersey ripped off by Iowa fans the previous season, was attempting to help teammate Pete Tapsak, after Tapsak had fouled Iowa’s Bob Schultz, who responded by punching Tapsak.

The true delight of this was that both Minneapolis papers responded to these promises with a considerable tone of “yeah, we’ll believe it when we see it, coming from those sub-human thugs.”

The Minneapolis Lakers beat Indianapolis 75-66, though the visitors - using the “control” theory (a.k.a openly stalling) - managed to hold George Mikan to 16 points, and got him to foul out of the game. Jim Pollard led the Lakers with 21 points.

In USHL action, the Minneapolis Millers - also known as the “Cooks,” after coach Jim Cook - jumped out to a 5-0 lead against the St. Paul Saints, and held on for a 5-2 win, behind 35 saves from goaltender Harry McQueston. 7,501 fans attended the game at the St. Paul Auditorium, later known as Roy Wilkins Auditorium.

Elaine Gordon of Chicago, noted to be a mother of two children, won the Sons of Norway senior women’s speedskating title at Powderhorn Park, edging out Minneapolis’s Donna Wang.

50 years ago: January 16, 1974

Minnesota Buckskins coach Owen Davidson was headed for Philadelphia, to attempt to sign two new players to Minnesota’s franchise in World Team Tennis, which would begin play in May. (Skipping to the end of the saga: 1974 would be Minnesota’s only season in World Team Tennis, though there was a Minnesota team for a year in a reincarnated version in the 1990s.)

The San Diego city council (!) had to scrape together $71,000 to pay bonuses to three Padres, including Dave Winfield, so that the Padres didn’t lose the players. I’ll be honest, I can find no other references to this on the internet; 1974 was the year that Ray Kroc bought the franchise and saved them from moving to Washington, but at least according to the Minnesota papers, the city council was stepping in to pay some salaries too.

Twins owner Calvin Griffith was quoted arguing that Ossie Bluege should be elected to the Hall of Fame by the old-timers committee, and let me tell you, that would have been something, for a guy without much to recommend him for his on-field exploits.

That said, Bluege was Griffith’s money man for years - he’s usually noted as being the franchise’s controller - and, in 2018, the Star Tribune’s Curt Brown detailed just how important Bluege was to the team’s move to Minnesota, and in discovering one of the franchise’s greatest players.

North Stars goalie Gump Worsley, then 44 years old, was dealing with a knee injury suffered the previous day against St. Louis. His backup, Fern Rivard, had come in to get the win, but was also still recovering from his own neck injury, and it was unclear which might play against the powerhouse Montreal Canadiens.

North Stars coach Parker MacDonald, showing the sensitivity that marked the age, was quoted as follows: “One of them holds his neck and the other holds his knee. I haven’t got a hockey team here, it’s a [redacted, though whatever swear he used was printed as “bleeping” in the Tribune] vaudeville act.”

25 years ago: January 16, 1999

The Minnesota Vikings were preparing for the NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons, due to take place the following day. That game, of course, never actually happened, and was canceled, leaving us to speculate what might have been.