Twenty-four years ago, the Baseball Hall of Fame welcomed an Oriole known simply by his first name - a balding infielder who defined his position and bled orange all his life.

Next week, Cooperstown, N.Y., will do this again. And like Brooks Robinson before him, Cal Ripken Jr.'s induction is expected to smash attendance records when a throng of Marylanders heads north to cheer his entry into the museum's hallowed halls.

Brooks. Cal. Who needs surnames? Their monikers conjure up images of baseball's storied past: Robinson, the deft third baseman, sprawled in the dirt, glove arm raised to show an impossible catch. And Ripken, the nonstop shortstop, high-fiving fans as he circles the field at the height of The Streak.

At Ripken's enshrinement, Robinson surmised, the Iron Man will speak modestly, sign graciously and engage the crowd, which is expected to top the 50,000 mark set in 1999.

"Cal will say and do the right things, and people will love him," said Robinson, 70.

Just as No. 5 did nearly a quarter-century ago.

On July 31, 1983, Robinson woke at 7 a.m. with his acceptance speech racing through his mind.

As I stand here before you I realize I must be the luckiest man in the world. ...

Gathering his notes, he scribbled some last-minute changes and, for the umpteenth time, read the speech to his wife, Connie, who listened patiently in their hotel room in Cooperstown.

"I was very nervous," Robinson said. "I'd been working on that speech for two months."

My career has been all the more meaningful because of the Oriole fans and friends, many of whom have made this trip to join me here today. ...

As he left The Otesaga Resort Hotel that hot, sticky Sunday, Robinson was engulfed in what he described as "a sea of orange and black." The streets of the little town teemed with folks wearing Orioles caps and Orioles T-shirts, and waving Orioles flags and placards trumpeting Robinson's arrival.

"No. 5 is No. 1!" a banner read.

On another, in big, bold strokes, was a poem:

"Players of high caliber are few,

Thank God Baltimore had someone like you.

Thanks, Brooks."

Robinson watched all of this in a pinch-me state.

"I felt like I was living a dream sequence," he said.