The encounter with a fisherman that a choked-up Charlie Baker recounted during the signature moment of Tuesday’s debate in fact occurred in 2009, early during Baker’s last run for governor, the campaign acknowledged today.

In retelling the story Tuesday, Baker did not mention that the encounter that left him struggling with emotion had occurred so long ago.

Baker told the story Tuesday in response to a debate question: When was the last time you cried?

His Democratic opponent, Martha Coakley, addressed the question first, saying she had cried that very day, hours earlier, at a memorial for a union leader who had died of leukemia, the disease that had killed her mother.

Baker then answered, “So I got asked the other day—and I may not make it through this story. I got asked the other day to tell some interesting stories about people I had met over the course of the campaign.”

He told the story of a fisherman—“a big huge man, completely soaked in sweat and salt water”—who cried when Baker asked him about the fishing business.

Baker continued: “And then he said, ‘See those two kids up there?’ And he pointed to these two boys on the boat. ‘Those are my sons.’ And he said, um, ‘They were both spectacular football players at New Bedford High School who were given college scholarships to go play football.’ ”

But the father had said no, according to Baker, the boys were to become fisherman.

“ ‘And I ruined their lives,’ ” Baker said, appearing to struggle with emotion, quoting the fisherman.

Attempts by the Globe today to locate a family that fits Baker’s description from the debate have been unsuccessful.

Asked about doubts on the fisherman’s authenticity, Baker said today: “Well, he certainly existed for me….That story, you could find ten more that are just like it.”

Baker told a version of the story in 2010, in response to a question by then-Globe columnist Brian McGrory about what Baker had learned about the people of Massachusetts and how they had changed him over the campaign.

Baker responded at the time by citing tradesmen he had met at a barbecue. “They were burly guys,’’ Baker said, in the column published Oct. 27, 2010. “They had mortgages. A couple of them had kids in college.’’

McGrory then wrote: “[Baker] also talked about a sweaty and solemn fisherman who described his job as a ‘cancer’ and regretted bringing his two sons into a vocation that was heading toward death.

“The urgency in my voice comes from those conversations,” Baker said at the time.

The Baker campaign today cited the McGrory column as proof that the fisherman story was not made up, though a spokesman said the campaign could not provide a name or contact information for the fisherman.

The campaign provided a video they said was shot the same day in late 2009 that Baker met the fisherman. They say the man Baker was talking about in the debate is not in the video, which includes interviews with other fishermen about regulations.