Instructor is a big history hit on social media

GCU's Adam Maynes (center) joins Mark Grace and Todd Walsh (from left) on a Diamondbacks pregame show in 2022.

Adam Maynes entertains a lot of passions — history, politics, sports, music, teaching.

The Grand Canyon University government instructor taught high school history, worked for a U.S. congressman and plays the drums but today has become known for another interest — sports history.

Maynes at his home office.

Maynes is the creator of a popular Twitter (now called X) account @AZSportsHistory that several times a day takes followers back to memorable moments from that day in state sports history — or ones fascinatingly obscure.

On any given day, he may post about an event from 1976, when the Phoenix Racquets and tennis star Chris Evert played in a World Tennis Team match, and later add one from the same day 27 years later, Aug. 9, 2003, when NFL great Emmitt Smith made his Arizona Cardinals preseason debut.

The posts can bring back a huge Suns playoff moment or an in-line hockey team called the Cobras that once played in Phoenix.

Maynes says it has allowed him to touch base with Arizona fans of all generations and get to know most of the state’s sport journalists, even appearing on their radio or television shows.

“Sports are so nostalgic,” he says. “It’s funny how many times I will read about an event, and even after I’ve had it on my page for several years, I feel like I am 9 years old again. I will go back to my childhood, sitting by myself listening to (former Suns sportscaster) Al McCoy on a little orange radio while playing Nintendo.”

His personal top moment that still gives him chills, though, was when he was 15: The Suns acquired Penny Hardaway 25 years ago to pair with Jason Kidd. It’s a joy he’s never forgotten, even if it didn’t turn out that great for the team.

“There are some events that just get a visceral connection,” he said, such as the 2010 day when Amare Stoudemire left the Suns for the Knicks. “That gets a lot of emotion.”

Those days aren’t easily forgotten for sports fans, even after they grow up and move into careers.

Maynes attended community college, considering music because he plays piano and percussion. Or broadcast journalism. Or ... teaching?

“I didn’t want to be a band director and I hated math. I ended up falling in love with history because I was in control of what I was learning,” he said.

He loved finding primary sources of information and discovering bits of history that weren’t common knowledge, opening “the research part of my brain. It’s what makes me happy I guess.”

But through a friend he began to volunteer on the campaign of Ben Quayle, the son of former vice president Dan Quayle, and after he was elected, Maynes landed a job on the staff of the former U.S. representative for Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District.

It was exciting and stressful, and he thought he was set for life. “It only lasted two years.”

So he got a master’s degree in history, worked for the Glendale City Council and taught history in high school, never forgetting his other passion of sports.

When his son was born in 2014, he spent some home time going through old sports teams’ media guides, gathered from an aunt who once worked for the Suns, and from eBay. He began to create a Word document of memorable events in history from the four major sports teams based in Phoenix.

After he got a job at GCU as an adjunct history professor in 2016 and had some free time in the summers, he added Arizona college basketball and football, minor sports teams in Arizona, and finally the obscure and fun happenings in Arizona sports history.

Five years ago, he began to put them on Twitter, and over time watched his followers approach 6,000.

An example of a post that is among his favorites combines his love of local history and sports. A 1917 copper mine strike in Bisbee, Arizona, led to more than 1,300 miners being herded and sent to New Mexico, a ghastly part of the state’s labor history. The sports angle? The miners were marched to Warren Ballpark, considered the oldest continuously-used professional baseball venue in the U.S., to get on the nearby train. (A personal tidbit: His great-grandfather was a scab in the mine).

He also discovered a bit of history about a minor league hockey team from 1958, the Apaches, who played in a rink near 7th Street and Bethany Home Road in Phoenix. He found that the building still exists, complete with a rounded roof and Zamboni ramp. “It’s a chop shop now,” he said. “They use the ramp to get cars in and out.”

This is no easy task. He had compiled more than 7,000 events, summarized them, gathered videos and art, and programmed them to post several times a day while using his research to write a book on Arizona sports history that he expects to finish next year.

Some posts were so popular — such as the one showing Phoenix Suns players modeling the new Diamondbacks jerseys as the baseball team was forming — they get hundreds of retweets and thousands of likes.

He brought all that research and career experience to his new job as a full-time government instructor at GCU five years ago.

“As someone who was directly involved in city government, he brings a unique hands-on lens of how the government operates in both the national, state and local level,” College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Dr. Sherman Elliott said. “As a history lecturer, he provides key insights in understanding that our decisions today are based on what has come before us and will surely come after.”

The classroom is a stage for the musician, who plays drums for occasional local events.

“What is that one bit of information that people don’t know that has been lost?” Maynes said. “To be able to discuss those events and really get some great debate on a point in history, when they back up their thoughts with relevant previous events, has just made it a blast.”

But he doesn’t talk politics with his social media followers.

“What I very much love about it is that sports are a unifier. It’s entertainment,” he said. “Its something that people of all backgrounds, all political persuasions, can all stand and celebrate in victory or cry and wallow in sorrow for a loss.” 

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected]

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