"For me, this has been a blast," Gwynn said. "And I am hoping even after tomorrow we can still have some kind of contact, because he's really one of the best people you'd ever want to meet."

Seeming like old friends, the duo cracked several jokes during the nearly hour-long session.

Ripken's best quip came when he was asked what he hoped he would look like on his Hall of Fame plaque.

"I'd like someone to give me some hair," he said.

Ripken also waxed nostalgic when asked about Orioles umpires attendant Ernie Tyler's decision to come to the induction and end his consecutive home games streak of more than 3,700 games.

Tyler, 83, started the streak on Opening Day 1960.

"There's a little bit of sadness that comes over me that he's choosing to come," Ripken said. "But there's a great sense of happiness inside that he's picking this event to actually do it."

Ripken then joked about his own decision not to tell anyone ahead of time before he stopped his consecutive games streak of 2,632 in 1998.

"Did [Tyler] keep it a secret until 10 minutes before the start of the game?" Ripken asked.

So, yes, even in his fatigued, anxious state, Ripken was trying to have fun yesterday, because today will be an emotional roller coaster. Soon, though, it'll all be over, and Ripken will officially be a Hall of Famer.

Then the Iron Man can recharge.

"Probably Monday or Tuesday, I'll want to sleep for two weeks," he said.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com