Big Man, Big Credentials
As World War I was coming to a close, a giant of a young man was graduating from tiny Freedom High School in Owen County. His name was James Pierce, but his classmates called him “Babe.” Unfortunately, very little is known about this portion of Pierce’s life, but it is known that he played basketball in high school. Freedom participated in the 1916 sectional at Bedford where they were defeated by Linton 43-21. IN 1917, Freedom beat Mitchell in the first round of the Bloomington sectional, then lost to Salem in the semifinals. Freedom’s coach in Pierce’s junior year (1916) was Q. Austin East, who went on to become the district court judge in Monroe County. East’s brother Ed was a famous radio entertainer, comedian and actor in the 30’s and 40’s, the first of several connections between Pierce and celebrity. Ed East’s career closely paralleled Pierce’s, as “Babe” would become famous in the same era.