SAN FRANCISCO -- The song "Don't Stop Believin'" hit the top 10 charts 33 years ago, in 1981, when Journey was one of the hottest bands in the country and Steve Perry was a young up-and-comer with a stunningly powerful voice.
Back then, Perry would probably have a hard time believing this song would make a resurgence decades later and serve as a fire-up-the-crowd rally cry for a slew of sports teams across the country. But as stadium sing-a-longs expanded to more than just the standard "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" in the seventh inning, songs ranging from fun to inspirational to goose bump-inducing emerged onto the scene.
In Colorado, they play "Hey Baby" just after the stretch in the seventh. In Boston, it's "Sweet Caroline" in the eighth. In Atlanta, it's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" in the seventh.
In San Francisco, it's "Don't Stop Believin'" (when the Giants are tied or losing) and "Lights" (when they are leading) with a playoff twist. Among the fans in the stands singing this eighth-inning staple is the man who made the song famous three-plus decades ago -- Perry, a California native, longtime Bay Area resident and Giants season-ticket holder.
Through the current postseason, the cameras have panned to Perry in his seats in section 219, singing with the crowd. He's done this in past years, but never with so much verve as he is now. In the old days, Perry could be seen waving his orange rally rag, singing, but he stayed put.
Now, it's like Perry is hosting the world's largest karaoke party. He sings. He moves. Perry comes bounding down the stairs from his section, singing directly into the camera and using the same hand motions he did during his concerts in the early 1980s.
As fans have wrapped their collective arms around the classic Journey anthems, Perry seems to also be enthusiastically embracing his place in all of this. The man most identifiable with the song could easily hide behind a cloak of aloofness, but that's not the path Perry has taken.
During a recent interview with KNBR's Brian Murphy and Paul McCaffrey, Perry addressed his role in this phenomenon.
"I was asked to lead the fans during the middle of the eighth, and wow, it's a real charge," he said to the hosts. "In fact, sometimes I have to calm myself down because I start to hang over the balcony and stuff like that."
Indeed, Perry looks plenty riled up when those famous first notes are played over the P.A. system. When it's time for the line "It goes on and on and on and on," he does the same circular motion with his right hand as he did while performing the song with Journey decades ago.
"This is the first year he's left his seat and gone a little crazy," said Tom Robinson, Giants senior vice president of marketing. "In the past, he'd stay in the seat, and maybe be a little animated. He's definitely gotten way more animated this year. I think he's always had fun with it. He's having a lot more fun with it this year."
As are the fans. Perry's "performances" have gone viral, and now, when the eighth inning arrives, most of the AT&T Park crowd knows what's coming. It elevates the already festive atmosphere at the ballpark just a smidge, making it hard to imagine the ritual going on without his presence.
The Giants, truth be told, are not Perry's first team when it comes to "Don't Stop Believin'." When the White Sox adopted the song as their rally cry through the 2005 regular season and postseason, Perry embraced the association. In fact, he was in Houston the night the White Sox won the World Series, and he sang the song with the team in the visitors' clubhouse at Minute Maid Park during the postgame celebration.
Since then, other teams have approached Perry to participate in some capacity when they incorporate the famous song into their stadium entertainment, but he has declined. He prefers to stay under the radar, shying away from media interviews while quietly working with the Giants' community relations department on several charitable endeavors. Recently, Perry hosted a meet-and-greet with the winner of an online raffle that raised $217,000 for the Giants Community Fund and the Junior Giants program, which he has supported for the last 10 years.
The '80s are over, as are Perry's days as Journey's lead singer. But his presence at Giants games comes with a tinge of nostalgia and a ton of fun. And it goes on and on and on and on.
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.