BALTIMORE -- Cal Ripken Jr. has been in the major leagues six years. He still drinks milk. Bill Ripken has been in the bigs one day. He drinks beer. As he walked out of the Baltimore Orioles clubhouse Saturday night, he heard Alan Wiggins say, "Way to pick it, Bill." "Thanks, Wiggie," shot back Ripken, like he's been there years. "Don't drink all the Schlitz," said Wiggins.

Calvin and Bill (only outsiders call them Cal and Billy) are brothers, the first siblings ever to play in the majors with their father as manager. Even so, it would be a mistake to mistake them. You'd want Cal to date your sister. But she'd probably want to investigate Bill first. It's not that Bill's so handsome, not with all those scabs, even on his forehead, from his wreckless abandon. But there's something unique about a cocky, gravel-voiced 22-year-old who mixes gall and charm.

Ask Bill about his first play, a room service grounder, and he says, "Nice to get Sunday hops on Saturday night." That puts him ahead of both father and brother in colorful career quotes.

"Everybody loves Bill," says his sister Ellen. He's the Ripken with the pizazz, the one they tell the stories about. When cops were rousting Ellen and a girlfriend outside a clubhouse in Richmond, taking them for groupies, Bill heard the voices, walked outside in just a towel, said, "Got it under control, Sis?" then turned around and walked back inside. Problem solved.

"Mom cried when she found out that she was pregnant with Bill. It was a surprise," said Ellen as she sat in the box seats behind home plate during the seventh-inning stretch in Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. "But Dad told her, 'Don't worry. He'll be the joy.' I'm not tellin' any tales out of school, am I, Fred?" says Ellen, turning to brother Fred. "A few years ago Mom and Dad were in a restaurant and Bill was being his usual outgoing self and Dad wrote on a napkin and passed it to Mom, 'Told you he'd be the joy.' You remember that, don't you, Fred?"

"Was that the same night," asks the demythologizing Fred, "that Bill threw the birthday cake in that guy's face?"

Mother Vi, Ellen and Fred barely watch the historic game, focusing far more on Fred's cute daughter -- the first grandchild in a family that believes profoundly in family. "The one and only grandchild," says Vi, as though others better get on the stick. Yet the split second a grounder heads toward Bill, Vi yells, sharply yet routinely, "Come on, Hon." Before the play's even over she's turned away, knowing the outcome.

The rest of baseball thinks the three-Ripken phenomenon defies all odds. Yet the family seems incredibly blase. Their sense of the baseball order is so ingrained they find it hard to think any other way. If a player's good enough to make the majors, he should make it and will. If he isn't, he shouldn't and won't. If Bill deserves it, he'll get it. If he doesn't, he shouldn't. What's the issue? If Bill hit .190, it almost seems the family would prefer him in AAA. Isn't that the way it should be?

"I'll go get examined one day and find out what's wrong with me," says Cal Sr. "Maybe in 20 years when I'm in a rocking chair, all these things will have some meaning in a different way. Right now, I got 24 people to take care of."

"Cal {Sr.} and Bill are going to have a lot of media, fans, even players, questioning all this. So they have to be formal, even more professional, than they are," says Vi. "You wouldn't believe how many people say, 'It has to be pull, not ability.' Average fans relate to their own experience, like the Little League dad who coaches his sons, so they can't conceive that in the professional world discriminations of talent really are made impartially."

If anyone thinks the Ripkens are tittering with delight these days, then they haven't analyzed the pressure in the situation. "I can imagine it," says Roy Smalley Jr., whose father was a big league shortstop and whose uncle, Gene Mauch, managed him. "My biggest accomplishment in baseball was beating all the bleep I took in Minnesota my first two years there. When you're demonstrably disliked en masse because people think you're getting to play on your name, it's ego deflating and embarrassing. You want to make it quit, silence everybody, right now, today. And it can't be done that fast.

"I still run into fans who think I married Calvin Griffith's daughter. . . . This game'll thrill you to death and make you sick to your stomach. On bad days, you find out how much people like to yell at ballplayers. The family connection is just more ammo.

"The flip side is that playing for Gene was fun and I can imagine how much fun it would have been to play for my dad," adds Smalley. "Talk to Bill Ripken in a couple of years. I bet he'll say he wouldn't trade this."

"Many players would end up hating the game if they were in the situation Bill is in," says Orioles coach Elrod Hendricks. "It's a double whammy. His father is the manager. And he plays next to his brother, who'll probably be in the Hall of Fame. Bill can't possibly live up to the comparisons with his brother.

"I've heard it enough already. Even before spring training. 'Why doesn't he hit with power like his brother?' " says Hendricks. "But Bill is so strong minded -- much more like his daddy than Cal Jr. -- that I think he'll close his eyes and ears to it and get through it all."

Hendricks' real fear is that Bill will suffer a syndrome he's seen often in the '80's. "All our young guys who've gotten big buildups -- Mike Young, John Shelby, Storm Davis, Dennis Martinez, Ken Dixon -- were asked to do things in the majors they'd never even done in the minors. All you heard was 20 wins or 40 homers. When they didn't live up to {false} expectations, people said, 'He's a bum.' They ended up doing less than they were capable of."

If anything, the Orioles are giving Bill no build up whatsoever. The line is that Pete Stanicek is the future at second base and Craig Worthington at third. Ripken projects as a scuffler.

Yet the whole family has a way of consistently exceeding predictions. As recently as two years ago, when Earl Weaver returned to manage and Bill was having his second injury-ruined season in the minors, who truly expected that July 11, 1987 would get into the record books?

Who'd have believed the father would become a forceful and respected manager, widely perceived as much more competent than the team he inherited? As for skinny Bill, that's even more of a shock. At 6 feet 1, he's filled out to 180 pounds and arrives in Bal'mer with the reputation as a superb fielder and a heady, fairly durable leader. Somehow, his average has improved as he's gone up the ladder. At Charlotte .268, then .286 at Rochester this year with eight straight hits recently. Is this the kid who needed two years to get out of rookie ball?

The Ripkens' future is uncertain, to say the least. The father could end up fired because of his players. Even if Bill gives his best, his Orioles career might be brief. As for Cal Jr., if his dad were fired, would he resign with the Orioles after this season? Conceivably, all three Ripkens could be gone next opening day. Or all could be fixtures. These delicious yet tense days for the Ripkens should be taken for what they are worth and savored. After all, it's not every father who, even for one sweet summer, gets to gaze on either side of second base and see his pride and joy.