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Yesterday's News

Sample Minnesota's rich history, courtesy of a microfilm archive

Feb. 27, 1921: An electrifying infographic

The earliest cartograms -- maps whose boundaries are distorted to reflect a set of data other than area -- began appearing in the late 19th century. This 1921 cartogram by General Electric is the earliest example -- OK, the only example -- I've found in the Minneapolis Tribune archives:

No, Dear Reader, This Is Not a Cubist Map!
It Shows Where Electricity Is Used in the U.S.

This odd map of the United States may seem at first glance to be a cubist artist’s conception of the familiar geographical outlines of our country, but it has a strictly utilitarian purpose. It is known as the map of the “electrical United States” and pictures graphically the number of household users of electricity in each state.
A glance at this map will also show which state boasts the largest number of household electrical consumers and how other states compare in number of users. How each state ranks may be judged by its size as shown on the map, which was prepared by the General Electric company, Schenectady, N.Y., from data compiled through a national survey made by the commercial service section of its publication bureau.
New York ranks first, having an electrical population (served by central stations) of 8,620,700, or 78.7 per cent of its actual population. The second largest state is Pennsylvania, with an electrical population of 6,330,000, or 68.8 per cent of the actual population; third, Illinois, with 5,150,000, or 79.8 per cent; fourth, Massachusetts, with 4,030,000 or 97,8 per cent; fifth, Ohio, with 3,550,000, or 66.1 per cent, and sixth, California, with 2,827,000, or 86.5 per cent.
At the bottom of the list is Nevada, squeezed into a tiny circumference on the map, because it has only 66,300 persons served by central power stations, which, however, is 54.3 per cent of its actual population.
The most nearly electrified state is the District of Columbia, where 430,000 out of a population of 437,000 are served by electricity. This is a percentage of 98.2. The next best showing is made by Rhode Island, where 98 per cent of the people are served by central stations.
The electrical population of the United States is 62,023,400, out of an actual population (last previous census) of 108,148,000, a percentage of 57.3.

May 8, 1984: Kirby Puckett's first day in the majors

The Minneapolis Star and Tribune was full of interesting nuggets during the week Kirby Puckett, then 23, found his way to the major leagues. Gymnast Nadia Comaneci retired at age 22. The Soviet Union announced it would boycott the Olympics in Los Angeles that summer. A fellow named R.T. Rybak was covering business news. Gloria Steinem, appearing in the Twin Cities for a lecture on women’s issues, predicted that 1984 would not be the year that a presidential candidate would choose a woman as his running mate. And a movie called “The Natural” opened in local theaters.

Puckett made his major league debut on May 8, 1984, going 4-for-5 in a 5-0 Twins victory over the Angels. His debut would have come a day earlier but for some unexpected delays. Reporter Jay Weiner explained:

New Twin ends up playing for time

By Jay Weiner Staff Writer

Anaheim, Calif.

For a fresh-cheeked rookie, Kirby Puckett, just 23, has seen the world.

Unfortunately, the newest Twin saw it all Monday, the day he was supposed to make his major league debut.

“Where’s Punkett?” Twins Manager Billy Gardner said with characteristic mispronunciation soon after the 5 p.m. team bus arrived at Anaheim Stadium. “He didn’t go to Dodger Stadium, did he?”

The uniform, No. 34, was there. Even the neatly stitched “P-U-C-K-E-T-T” on the back of the Twins’ blue road jerseys. That name, with just two seasons plus 19 games of minor league experience, was to have been in center field, batting first against the Angels last night.

Puckett's first week
Puckett got his uniform dirty soon enough, sliding into third base in one of his first games in the majors. (Star Tribune photo by Bruce Bisping)

“When they draft you into the Army they put you at the front lines, right, pal?” Gardner said.

Right. But it was already 6 o’clock, the Twins were due for batting practice and, still, no Puckett, the 5-foot-8, 185-pound fire hydrant who has been compared with former Houston Astro star Jim (Toy Cannon) Wynn.

Twins Traveling Secretary Mike Robertson was getting worried. Puckett’s plane from Portland, Maine, where the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens played Sunday, was due at Los Angeles International Airport soon after 1 p.m. With the hour drive south to Orange County, the righthanded hitter was long overdue.

At 6:10, Puckett, carrying his equipment bag, raced through the door.

“I got to get some money, man,” he said to Robertson. “I got to pay the cab.”

“I had to take one,” he said later, apologetically. “It was eighty-three dollars . . . I was stunned.”

Box score
The box score from Puckett’s first game in the majors.

He first got the bad financial news as he was driving along the freeway. He first heard $74. But when he realized it was so late he couldn’t stop at the hotel, he told the cabbie to proceed straight to Anaheim Stadium.

“He said, `Since you’re not going right to the Hyatt, I’ll have to charge you more,’ ” Puckett reported.

It was a ridiculously fitting end to a ridiculously tiring day. The no-necked native Chicagoan, who was hitting .270 with eight stolen bases in the International League, began his day at 5:30 a.m., Eastern time, or 2:30 a.m. California time. He made it to Atlanta from Maine just fine, but when he switched planes, the new aircraft, bound for Los Angeles, had to have its windshield changed.

“Twice,” Puckett said. He was delayed four hours. “They said it was cracked . . . and the defroster didn’t work . . . I couldn’t believe it.

“Nice start, huh?”

Not really. There was no start at all. Gardner decided Puckett was too tired to play. Darrell Brown started instead.

“I think,” said Gardner, “the kid needs a rest.”