Derek Jeter stepped to the podium inside the Yankee Stadium interview room July 9 after homering for his 3,000th career hit, a day that saw him go 5-for-5 and drive in the winning run in a 5-4 win over the Rays.
"If I would have tried to have written it and given it to someone, I wouldn't have even bought it, to be honest with you," said Jeter, who had HBO cameras following him that day for a documentary to air July 28.
Funny, because for one family, the storybook day started a little bit earlier, hours before Jeter's first hit in the opening inning.
Having raised more than $12,000 for the ALS Association Greater New York Chapter in the 2011 Westchester Walk to Defeat ALS on June 12, Adrian Dessi and his family arrived in a luxury suite that Saturday morning as guests of the Yankees.
Good days have been few and far between for the Dessi family, since Adrian was diagnosed with ALS two years ago. So the group settled in, happy to have the chance to witness history.
"My brother didn't tell us the magnitude of what was about to happen," Chris Dessi, Adrian's son, said of his brother, Mark. "He told me and the whole family that it was going to be an ALS event at the game and they would honor my father and he would have an opportunity to go on the field, but he wasn't certain."
The family -- which included Adrian's five grandkids -- arrived to the suite and was chatting it up before Mark blurted out the unexpected.
"Did you hear?" he said. "Dad's throwing out the first pitch."
When the family was escorted down to the field, Chris, who was pushing his father in a wheelchair, almost went too fast.
"My brother was telling me to slow down and soak it in," Chris said. "He's older, and I appreciate in hindsight that he did that. I was so concerned that I didn't pay attention."
If he didn't, he may have missed former Yankees manager Joe Torre walking through the bowels of the Stadium, or, even worse, he may not have been able to recall his brother telling him that his legs feel weak, that he would have to be excused if he broke for first base out of adrenaline.
His 36-year-old heart pounding like that of a little kid, Chris knelt down to his father in his wheelchair, asking him if he could believe everything that was happening.
That's when it hit him.
"It dawns on you why you're there," Chris said. "It is a terminal disease and it does stink, so it's emotional. You realize you're a part of something bigger than you."
And, just as he was thanking more Yankees executives for hosting them, telling them how he remembered the feeling in the stands across the street when he watched a World Series celebration in 1996, Mark blurted out: "Reg-gie!"
Sure enough, Mr. October himself was walking toward the group on the field, getting down on one knee to chat with Adrian, to ask about his disease, to learn that the old Brooklyn resident had been a Yankees fan ever since the Dodgers left for the West Coast.
Before Chris could even ask for an autograph, Jackson had asked for a pen. Adrian handed him the ball he planned to throw to home, which now reads: "7/9/11 To Adrian, Reggie Jackson 'HOF 93.' "
As Chris secured the signed ball, asked for a new one for his father to throw and looked on in amazement at what had just happened, Jeter himself trotted out of the dugout, addressing Adrian as "Sir" and saying it was an honor to meet him.
The next moment, Chris said, will live on in Adessi family lore forever.
Instead of being starstruck, Adrian poked Jeter in the side. He told the captain how, during the one year he lived in Barrington, R.I., he had been at Fenway Park to witness Carl Yastrzemski's 3,000th career hit in 1979.
If Jeter could record two hits later, Adrian told him, that would make the captain the second player he saw record his 3,000th career hit in person.
"It was so bizarre that somebody would say something so demanding of Derek while he graces us with his presence," Chris said with a laugh. "There was an awkward pause, no one expected it. My wife took a photo and you see him with his hands on his hips looking down, probably thinking, 'Who the hell does he think he is?' And my brother just goes, 'No pressure,' and we all laughed -- the executives, photographers, everyone.
"I said to my brother, 'Only dad would have the guts to say that to Jeter.' "
After that came Lou Gehrig's "Luckiest Man" speech on the videoboard, drawing tears from the Dessi family before Adrian was wheeled out about halfway between the mound and home plate for the ceremonial first pitch.
The pitch took a bounce, prompting Chris to call it a changeup, and they walked off the field and heard praise from nearby fans.
"It felt like a dream," Chris said. "It sounds cheesy and cliché, but everything unfolded in slow motion."
He felt as if every possibility he wondered about out loud came true, so it was no surprise that, right after he said it would have been nice to meet Joe Girardi, the Yankees skipper emerged from the dugout with a $10,000 check and a team-signed home plate to Dorine Gordon, CEO of the ALS Association Greater New York Chapter.
"That's the heart of the organization, really what it's about," Chris said. "That's the first time since I've been a fan that I saw it firsthand, that it's not lip service -- this is the way they conduct themselves."
What followed over the next three hours was baseball history, a made-for-TV-moment that served as an added bonus for a family that has gone through so much so soon, that for one day could put aside its pain and fears and give Adrian Dessi the day everyone knew he deserved.
"One of the best days of my life," Chris said. "The stars aligned and everything unfolded in front of you. No one from my family expected it, so everything was jaw-dropping and made you giggle like a school girl.
Matt Fortuna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.