Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Want some nostalgia with your baseball? Try Mastry's

Rick Mastry, owner of Mastry’s Bar, stands behind the bar with Alena Maynard, who has been a bartender there for 19 years.


Rick Mastry, owner of Mastry’s Bar, stands behind the bar with Alena Maynard, who has been a bartender there for 19 years.


“What's wrong with a kid making a buck?"

The words are attributed to Babe Ruth, speaking in defense of Rick Mastry's late father, Lay Mastry. Rick Mastry dug those eight words from the halls of memory this week to describe a disparity among noted sports bars in St. Petersburg.

Namely, Mastry's Bar and Ferg's Bar and Grill.

The story goes that a young Lay Mastry, who at 21 founded his namesake bar in 1935, would stand outside the Yankees spring training camp to snag foul balls. He'd then wait for Ruth to sign them before hawking them right there for $1. Other players scoffed at the young capitalist. But Ruth didn't mind.

"What's wrong with a kid making a buck?" Rick Mastry, 57, said this week in the near-empty bar.

The feeling is that Mastry's isn't getting its due anymore. Time was when this dive bar was the place to be, the spot where Babe Ruth and Billy Martin and others bent elbows. A smoky place to revel in baseball tales and fishing tales and soak up a beer.

The current success of the Tampa Bay Rays makes Mastry wistful. He has been sporting a Rayhawk for weeks. It nearly brings tears to his eyes, he said, to see his sunny city full of strangers from places like Ohio, Michigan and New York celebrate the same franchise for once.

So why not celebrate with the bar that has followed St. Pete baseball all along?

"It takes a winner to make people want to connect," said Mastry. "A lot of people are coming in here to celebrate what our kids have done."

Yet, come game time, the crowds and cowbells and TV cameras head en masse to Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill, which sits catty-corner to Tropicana Field at 1320 Central Ave.

Maybe it's the fault of modern transportation, mused longtime bartender Alena Maynard. A question of buses vs. trollies.

"They kind of shuttle 'em right by us," said Maynard, referring to out-of-towners who stay in downtown hotels and are whisked away by bus.

Of course, Mastry's Bar wasn't always at 233 Central Ave. The old location where Ruth and Martin hung out was down the street, a building that gave way to a parking garage through eminent domain. The shuttle used to stop right in front.

And they served hamburgers and other bar food at the old location. Ferg's offers a full family-style menu.

At Mastry's, they serve up nostalgia like it was 1935.

"My father served Babe Ruth in this bar," Mastry said of his dad, who died Aug. 30, 2005. "Billy Martin worked up a bar tab and my father made him work behind the bar to pay it off."

A stuffed, 131-pound tarpon caught by Lay Mastry hangs above the bar. Gone is the "beer book" journal that Lay Mastry kept behind the bar, the one that everyone, famous or not, scribbled in. But the black-and-white baseball photos on the walls are still dusty, and the furniture is the same as when the bar reopened at this location in 1988.

"It's pretty much the same," said Maynard, the bartender, adding with a nod to the wall of Rays memorabilia: "A little more pictures on the Wall of Shame."

Down Central Avenue, Mark Ferguson, who opened Ferg's 16 years ago, said there was really no competition between the two establishments.

"It's two different spectrums," said Mark Ferguson. "I've been going there for years. It's a hole in the wall and everybody goes there. But it's not a place you would go watch the game. It fits about 50 people, and there's no food."

"I'm here because the dome is where it's at," Ferguson added.

But history ties Mastry to his downtown location. That and the argument that you, too, can turn a buck.

"Why would you want to pay 20 bucks to park in that neighborhood," Mastry asked, "just to go to Ferg's?"

Luis Perez can be reached at (727) 892-2271 or

.if you go

The sports bars
Mastry's Bar Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill
Tap beer $2 (domestic) $3 (domestic), $4 (imported)
Well drinks $3 - $5.50 $3 - $6
Food Lays potato chips,
75 cents
Family-style menu, including $7.99 "Devil Ray" burger
Smoking Yes On patio
TVs Four tube sets, one flat screen over bar 75 monitors, including 24 flat screens
Claim to fame Babe Ruth drank here It's a stone's throw
to Tropicana Field

Want some nostalgia with your baseball? Try Mastry's 10/21/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 27, 2008 11:35am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Want elite college football athletes? Recruit Tampa Bay


    Now that college football watch list season is over (I think), here's one takeaway you probably already knew: Tampa Bay produces a lot of great athletes.

    Robinson High produuct Byron Pringle has gone from this performance in a high school all-star game to all-Big 12 at Kansas State.
  2. What you need to know for Wednesday, July 26


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    A heart-shaped box containing Katie Golden's ashes sits next to her picture at her family's South Tampa home. Katie died from a drug overdose in April 2017. She was only 17-years-old. Read about her parents' journey at [ALESSANDRA DA PRA | Times]
  3. Cuban diplomat reflects on U.S. relationship: 'Cuba was treated horribly'


    Few topics are more controversial in Florida than Cuba, a nation that has held fast to Communism despite lying 90 miles from the shores of a capitalist superpower. It's a place where startling poverty results from either a longtime U.S. trade embargo or a half-century of Communism, depending on one's point of view. …

    Carlos Alzugaray spent a half century as a scholar and diplomat for the Cuban government, including a stint as ambassador to the European Union.
  4. Clearwater residents avoid tax rate increase for ninth year in row

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Residents will avoid a rate hike on their property taxes for the ninth year in a row as taxable values continue to recover from recession levels, padding city coffers.

    Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos said the city must be prepared for unexpected expenses. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
  5. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.