Funny, I experienced the same thing at MIA a couple of years ago while on board a Martinair [MP] 763, heading across the pond for AMS.
We had an almost full complement of pax, and push back from the gate was at the advertised time. However as we taxied out to the parallel taxiway towards 27R, I could clearly see through the windows that we were Nr.10 or so in sequence for 27R take-off, along all those magnificent silver birds. It took us about 20 minutes to get into the Nr.1 position which [the delay was nicely and calmly announced by the captain]. Runway 27R was used in mixed mode, with traffic arriving on and departing from in staggered sequence at 27R.
Once the traffic had landed on 27R, we immediately taxied into position, only to maintain taxi-speed on the runway!!?? Most pax didn't know that we were already on the runway. We taxied down the runway, took the next exit to the right and parked for a couple of minutes at this exit, clear of the runway! As we were perpendicular to the runway, I could see through the windows traffic landing and taking off from the runway the we just vacated. Still most pax were not really concerned, although some were getting a bit annoyed because of the huge taxi distances on this huge airport. Someone even asked if we were going to taxi all the way to AMS...!!
At this time the captain came on the PA to announce the we would have some delay. The reason for the delay was that there was a small tailwind component on 27R. For many flights this was not really a problem, as I could still see tons of aircraft landing on, and taking-off from 27R. However the captain explained that because of the full payload, and the fuel onboard for the trans-Atlantic run, we were virtually at max take-off weight. Combined with runway length, OAT [33 C or so] and the unfavourable wind conditions, we couldn't make the take-off from our designated runway. The captain contacted MP-ops at AMS, to get some redefined calculations for required take-off distance, and maybe waiting for better winds, but to no prevail. He also reported that he denied to return to the gate and dump some payload, as was suggested by ATC! Way to go, That’s my captain!!
In the end, we taxied to the opposite end of 27R, and actually took off with no problem whatsoever from 09L. As we got airborne, I could clearly see a long, long, long line of aircraft still waiting for 27R. Although push back was right on the dot time-wise, it took us more than an hour to become airborne! However we landed with only 12 minutes delay at AMS.
When I think of it, we really did scr . w up the ATC pattern at MIA . . .
So I guess the same could have happened to your 744 at MSP. The traffic pattern being towards the west, but maybe with a touch of tail wind component. Usually this should not be a problem for the smaller birds, since sufficient runway length is available. However for the big birds being close to max take-off weight it could become a problem. I expect that this was the case during your visit at MSP.
I guess you did not carry a scanner at the time. The radio traffic would be quite interesting to say the least! It would also have allowed you to copy the wind conditions.
Immigration officer: "What's the purpose of your visit to the USA?" Spotter: "Shooting airliners with my Canon!"