A black former St. Louis Cardinals player said a white man punched him at a gas station in an unprovoked racial attack.
Curt Ford, who played parts of four seasons for the Cardinals, approached a gas pump at the same time as another man about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The 54-year-old Ford backed up and moved to another pump while the second vehicle drove past the pump and pulled into a parking spot directly in front of the store.
The second man, later identified by police as 37-year-old James Street, got out of his car and shouted racial slurs at Ford before walking into the store, investigators said.
Police said the two men encountered each other again as Ford walked into the store to pay for his gas and Street was leaving.
Street approached the former ballplayer and punched him in the face before driving away, police said.
The newspaper reported that a police source said Street made a reference to Ferguson, Missouri, where protests have raged for months following the police shooting of an unarmed black man.
“Go back to Ferguson, you n****r,” Street said, according to the source.
Street was charged with one count of assault motivated by discrimination in the third degree, a class D felony.
Ford declined to describe what happened, saying he had difficulty speaking because his face was swollen.
But he said the incident may prompt him to move away from the city where he played pro baseball in the late 1980s.
“I’m going to let the authorities handle this situation, but I’ve had enough of St. Louis,” Ford said.