He is one of the seraphim, the highest order of angels among the California Angels. Or if you prefer, he is a modern-day version of Jude, patron saint of lost causes. He is an all-time all-star at mopping up. He is one of the most spectacular late men ever to toil at Anaheim Stadium.
He is not, as you might guess, Angels reliever Bryan Harvey, who is en route to 30 or more saves this season. He is Kevin (I'll Find Your) Carr, a guy who sees action after even Harvey has showered.
Each night when the ballplayers' toil is done, Carr goes to work, patrolling the 144-acre, 16,000-car parking lot around Anaheim Stadium. He searches for lost automobiles or lost automobile owners or both. To the many fans who wander around the lot with woebegone expressions, Carr's orange pickup with its flashing orange light stands out as a beacon in the night.
"We were parked out in the boonies," says Barry Alexia, a fan from Hermosa Beach who once was lost and now is found. "We thought we had noted enough landmarks for triangulation, but when we came out, our triangulation points had moved." He and his fiancèe walked around the stadium a couple of times. "You can tell who's lost," says Alex Rust, 75, who preceded Carr as the Angels' leading midnight man before retiring from that position in 1990. "They have the Look on their face." Little Bo Peep had the Look. Alexia had it. Then he spotted Carr's most-welcome wagon. "There were a couple of other people in the truck, and we climbed in with them," Alexia says. "Like a homing beam, the guy zeroed right in on our car."
August 25, 1991
The Angels' lost patrol was established in 1966 by Tom Liegler, the stadium's first general manager and now a privately employed consultant. He had learned, in a previous job, just how turned around people can get. "I came from the Astrodome, where parking for 20,000 or so surrounded a circular facility with entrances that all looked the same," says Liegler. "We introduced a parking-lot patrol in Houston, and of all the letters of thanks we received, that was the one service the fans most appreciated."
The Big-A's late men are on duty for concerts, football games and tractor pulls, but Carr says that he and his colleagues get most of their save opportunities during the 81 Angel home games. Carr has found more autos than a spiteful pigeon, but his beneficence extends beyond just lost cars. A dead battery? No problem. Carr has more career starts than Cy Young. A lost kid? He'll do what he can. For his services he is paid $7.33 an hour, no tips. But as the saying goes, happiness, like jam, can't be spread without getting a little on yourself. Carr likes his job.
Consider this heartwarming tale: Longtime fan Dan Jones, happy after a 12th-inning Angel win, emerged from the Big-A with two boys in tow. He discovered that his pickup was gone. "Shoot!" Jones thought—or something to that effect. He spotted the night patrol on prowl. "You tow cars?" Jones asked Carr. Carr had resuscitated six lifeless batteries that evening, but he hadn't moved any cars. He shook his head. "It should be here," Jones said absently. "It's a Toyota pickup with a camper on it."
"Hop in," Carr said confidently. Jones and the boys piled into the back of the truck. Carr pulled away from Gate 3 and drove towa[rd Lot 5. Within one minute, he had located the little brown pickup.
According to Carr, it's a typical story. "Once inside," he says, "a fan will walk halfway around the stadium to his seat and then leave by the nearest exit and expect his car to be there. Happens all the time."
Stranger things happen, too. "I remember once, we were looking and looking," says Rust, who worked the graveyard shift for eight years. "It turned out the car wasn't even parked in the stadium lot. It was parked across the street. We found it anyway."
The stadium Samaritans have had so many good nights—they've written happy endings to so many Saab stories—that it's difficult for them to choose a best-ever game. But perhaps it was that magical one last season. Mark Langston and Mike Witt combined to no-hit the Mariners. Carr and his partner combined to find five out of five lost cars. Which was the more impressive performance?
Bruce Anderson, a frequent contributor to SI, is editor of Stanford University's alumni magazine.