Former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Curt Ford was the victim of racially motivated assault at a gas station in Fenton, Missouri, reports said Thursday. James Street, a 37-year-old white man, reportedly confronted Ford, 54, after both men attempted to park in front of the same gas pump.
Ford put his car in reverse and parked in front of another pump. St. Louis County police said Street allegedly exited his vehicle and shouted racial epithets, which Ford ignored, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Ford filled his gas tank and was walking toward the store to pay when Street allegedly punched him in the face.
"I'm going to let the authorities handle this situation, but I've had enough of St. Louis," said Ford, who told the Post-Dispatch the attack has caused him to consider moving away from the area. "You hear about this kind of stuff happening, and I always knew it existed because of my previous experience working here in St. Louis, but you try to keep away from it and there is just no way you can do that unless you stay inside like a hermit.”
Street faces a charge of Class D felony assault, motivated by discrimination, for his attack on Ford. In the past, Street pled guilty to charges related to assault and marijuana possession. Ford declined to reveal which racial slurs Street used, but a police source said Street said “Go back to Ferguson you [racial slur].”
Ford spent six seasons in Major League Baseball, four as a member of the Cardinals and two with the Philadelphia Phillies. He last played professional baseball in 1990 and finished his career with seven home runs and a .245 career batting average.
Former Ferguson, Missouri, police Officer Darren Wilson’s fatal shooting last August of unarmed black man Michael Brown led to months of protests around the country against racism and police brutality. A subsequent federal investigation into Ferguson’s police department and court system uncovered numerous instances of racial basis and outright racism, as well as allegations that Ferguson city officials deliberately subjected African-Americans to an undue number of fines to increase revenue.