At the age of 87, Ilee Short still rents out the rooms on the second floor of her home in Bluefield, W. Va.
"I'll say, 'Cal Ripken slept here,' " Mrs. Short said. "That usually gets their attention."
The year was 1978. Mrs. Short was 70 then, a widow of 18 years.
She rented her rooms to players with the Orioles' Rookie League affiliate, reasoning that they couldn't be any more trouble than the teen-age girls she had been boarding.
One of the players was Ripken, who was 17.
"He was a very nice young man," Mrs. Short said. "They were one of the nicest bunches of young men. They didn't drink, smoke, argue or anything. They just stuck to baseball."
Her boarders included three future Orioles -- Ripken, Mike Boddicker and Larry Sheets. The other was Tim Norris, a pitcher whose career ended at Double-A.
"I was the oldest," recalled Boddicker, who was then 20. "I told the youngsters, 'I'm the veteran.' I got my own room."
Today, Mrs. Short still rents out her rooms, but is less than pleased with her clientele. Of a recent threesome, she said, "One was on dope, one set fire to the room and the other ran up the telephone bill and didn't pay it."
Mrs. Short still follows Ripken, and occasionally watches Orioles games on television. Naturally, she's rooting for him to break Lou Gehrig's consecutive-games record.
"Do you have his parents' address?" she said. "I'd love to send him a congratulatory card."