Why Steve Perry Is the San Francisco Giants’ Bill Murray
Steve Perry is still a question mark for Journey's April 7 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. However, one surefire way to lure the singer to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn might be to promise him tickets to a baseball game.
After all, Perry is an avowed fan of the sport — and, instead of being spotted on a stage, he's seen more frequently at the ballpark these days.
As he told one TV interviewer in recent years, his love affair with baseball began in 2002, when his hometown San Francisco Giants reached the World Series. Things reached a fever pitch of sorts in 2005, when the Chicago White Sox made "Don't Stop Believin'" their unofficial postseason theme song, after several players heard the song in a bar and decided it was the perfect get-pumped tune.
When the Sox made the World Series, the front office went looking for Perry, no doubt hoping his presence would bring some extra good luck. Mission accomplished: The team tracked him down, and he hung out with the White Sox for the duration of the World Series, clearly honored that "Don't Stop Believin'" was chosen as an anthem.
"This song meant something to them, and it put me in an emotional state that I don't know what to say," Perry told the Chicago Tribune before Game 2. "To see it come back after all of these years. ... What better honor could I want?"
The White Sox ended up sweeping the Houston Astros, sealing their first World Series victory since 1917. Perry was in Texas with the team after Game 4, and was interviewed in the clubhouse while Journey's "Faithfully" played in the background.
"They adopted me — I found another family," he said of the White Sox. When asked if he thinks he had something to do with the momentous win, Perry sighed and turned almost bashful. "They tell me I did," he said. "All I did was sing a song with a band called Journey in 1981. They love it, so I'm so glad to be here. I'm really honored."
For good measure, an ecstatic Perry showed up at the victory parade to lead the team in — what else? — an a cappella version of "Don't Stop Believin.'"
Perry has also (ahem) faithfully followed his beloved San Francisco Giants during the postseason in subsequent years. In fact, it's not a stretch to call him the Giants' version of Bill Murray, the uber-Chicago Cubs fan who became a mascot of sorts for the long-suffering team during their 2016 championship run.
In 2010, an eagle-eyed fan spotted Perry looking jubilant at San Francisco's AT&T Park during the National League Championship Series. As "Don't Stop Believin'"
blared over the stadium loudspeaker, the singer — a Giants season ticket holder in section 219 at the park — waved an orange pom-pom and lip-synced to the tune.
When the Giants made the World Series, Perry was again there cheering on his team — and pumping up the crowd — as the P.A. system played "Lights."
This time, Perry embraced the spotlight. He directed the ballpark's response like an animated orchestra conductor and busted out some wild-man karaoke moves like he was gunning for a cash prize. And his presence was once again lucky: The Giants beat the Texas Rangers in five games.
“I can’t put into words what the Giants have done for me emotionally," Perry said in 2011. "It’s beyond words. In a lot of ways, they’ve saved me and they’ve gotten me back into music, to be perfectly honest with you. They touched me in a way that made me excited about music again.”
Perry was back at it in 2012, when the Giants won four straight games and swept the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. (See a pattern?) But by 2014, Perry was really ready for his close-up.
"This is the first year he's left his seat and gone a little crazy," Tom Robinson, the Giants' senior vice president of marketing, told MLB.com, as the Giants squared off against the fierce Kansas City Royals in the Fall Classic. "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."
Indeed, Perry hammed it up for the TV and stadium cameras and drew on the years he spent captivating crowds with Journey. The singer was spotted playing air guitar, high-fiving fans, racing down the section stairs and even mimicking hand gestures he used to make onstage with the band.
Perry fully admits he was clearly enjoying himself. "I was asked to lead the fans during the middle of the eighth, and wow, it's a real charge," he told KNBR in 2014. "In fact, sometimes I have to calm myself down because I start to hang over the balcony and stuff like that."
To no one's surprise, the Giants beat the Royals in 2014, this time in seven games. Perry ended up in the thick of the victory parade, riding on a float with Journey at top volume and soaking up the good vibes from fellow fans.
In addition to all the lighthearted fun and games, however, Perry has used his celebrity status (and baseball fandom) for good causes.
"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," MLB.com reported in 2014. "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."
In a happy coincidence, the New York Mets are squaring off against the Florida Marlins at nearby Citi Field during the April weekend of the Rock Hall induction ceremony. Perhaps anyone looking for newly minted Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Perry should start there first.
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