FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox first baseman Bobby Dalbec has already picked out the kit he’ll wear to the ballpark for Opening Day at Fenway on April 15.
“Our home opener, I’m going to wear his (Derrick White’s) Celtics No. 9 jersey in there,” Dalbec said Saturday here at JetBlue Park.
Dalbec and White were basketball and baseball teammates together at Legend High in Parker, Colorado.
Dalbec texted White immediately after hearing the Celtics had acquired him in a trade from Spurs on Feb. 10, then ordered White’s Celtics No. 9 jersey.
“I customized one and it arrived last week,” Dalbec said.
White returned Dalbec with one of his Spurs game jerseys when he played for San Antonio.
“I’m going to send him a Red Sox, one of my players,” Dalbec said. “And he’s going to send me a player (Celtics). I want this black with the Celtics green stripes on the front.
Dalbec played on the Legend High varsity basketball team as a freshman and sophomore before quitting to focus on baseball. Legend High was established in 2008. White graduated in 2012. Dalbec graduated in 2013.
“It’s crazy,” White said. “Two kids from Legend, brand new high school. We were the first two promotions. So two kids now in Boston, that’s pretty crazy. But I’m super excited for it to come out here. I already have his jersey, so I’ll have to buy him one from Boston.
Dalbec added: “It’s pretty cool that we end up playing at the highest level in the same city. It’s very surreal.
White recently spoke about Dalbec’s basketball skills.
“Bobby can shoot,” White said. “He had a nice little jump shot and he was tall, a good size. I think his basketball IQ needed work. Bobby was silent. I don’t know how good he said he was, but he was pretty good to us. He was great on the bench. But he’s my guy. As soon as I got traded he texted me and I’m glad he’s back here too.
Dalbec laughed as he read White’s quotes about him.
“I lacked basketball IQ, which I think he said,” joked Dalbec. “I read that and (expletive) lost it too. So fun.”
Could Dalbec shoot as White claimed?
“I could shoot but I couldn’t dribble and I had no midrange,” Dalbec said. “I was able to get to the rim easily but couldn’t finish on the rim. But I could get rebounds, get in the way, place picks and shoot 3s. That’s about it.”
Dalbec said White had an “awesome” story. Our Souichi Terada wrote an in-depth article on White’s rise from an unnamed prospect with zero Division I offers out of high school in the NBA. He first played Division II Colorado-Colorado Springs. As Terada wrote, White only received a $3,000 housing allowance from college and had to pay off student loans using his first NBA paycheck.
White is averaging 10.5 points per game in 22 games for Boston so far.
“When people say he’s the hardest worker in the room, that’s it and more,” Dalbec said. “He’s probably tired of everyone talking about him. But he was not tall. Maybe 5-11, 160 pounds his junior or senior year. And then he grew like five or six inches into D-2 and started getting looks. He failed his first year. He played a year in D-1 (Colorado) and (Spurs head coach Gregg) Popovich said, “Yeah, I want that guy.”
“We always knew he was a great basketball player and it would always come down to size,” added Dalbec. “His father always believed in him. He was in every game and worked hard. He always pushed him and Derrick always pushed himself. It’s an awesome story.
Derrick White’s father, Richard White, sent his son’s soundtracks to Division II and III schools, junior colleges, and NAIA programs.
“None of us thought that (NBA) at the time,” Dalbec said. “But he always wanted it obviously. He was never the guy who said, “I’m going to play in the NBA. But here (in his own mind) he was an NBA player. Looking back on it and remembering how he went about it, you could tell that was his only goal. And obviously, it paid off for him.
Dalbec said White was an all-around player in high school.
“He was a five-tool basketball player,” Dalbec said. “He can bounce back. He can play defense. He can block shots. Behind the perimeter, he makes his shots. Create shots. An excellent passer. He does everything.
“He also played baseball,” added Dalbec. “His comp player was Juan Pierre, he would say. His helmet was too big. … Great central defender.
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