On a mission for autographs
By KATHRYN WEXLER and CHRISTOPHER BLANK
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 27, 2001
Craig Steinchen and his 17-year-old son Matt flew in from Chicago to get autographs, autographs, autographs. Matt Steinchen says he has nearly 3,000 pieces of sports paraphernalia signed by athletes. He figures that after three days in Tampa, he'll surpass that.
At the Tampa Convention Center Friday afternoon, Dad was rolling his eyes at the grown men clutching shirts and miniature footballs and racing after celebrity athletes for their autographs. "These guys are hounds," said Steichen, an Office Depot employee. "They'll get $25 to $100 for that stuff."
Not Matt Steinchen. Is his collection for sale?
"Never," Matt sniffed.
But what's up with those strange blue-and-purple jerseys father and son were wearing?
"Matt designed it," said Steinchen, who let drop that he's hoping they get noticed and that someone wants to manufacture them. -- KATHRYN WEXLER
Stargazing is easy on the Hooters' Bus
For a good perspective on stargazing, it pays to be in the driver's seat. And in the world of limousines and party buses now cruising the streets of Tampa Bay, Blaine Stoddard is king.
He's the driver of the Hooters' Bus, a luxury cruiser with leather couches, a bar and all the amenities of a rolling bungalow.
Stoddard, a Fort Myers resident, is a chatty guy -- you get that way hanging out with a dozen calendar girls and the bevy of celebrities who ride with multimillionaire restaurateur David Lageschulte -- "Lags" to his trusty driver.
"Sit here for an hour and I'll have at least two hours of stories for you," Stoddard says, pulling out his prosthetic leg autographed by famous passengers. Among the signatures are Marcus Allen, Pat Reilly and Dan Marino. The bus is in town for Friday's opening of Dan Marino's restaurant in BayWalk. So does this place get pretty steamy? "All these guys are class," Stoddard insists. "There's two rules on the Hooters' Bus. The first is safety. The second is everybody gets treated like they're kings and queens." -- CHRISTOPHER BLANK
Today's Super Bowl story lineup