Peter David Titanic
Born: August 13, 1920
Died: January 20, 2014 (Markham, Ontario)
Pete Titanic, a big man with a big name, won three postwar Grey Cups as an end with the Toronto Argonauts.
Titanic starred as a three-sport athlete in high school in the Toronto suburb of Mimico, where he played fastball, basketball and football. The school’s gridiron team won a city championship and Titanic went on to join the Toronto Indians of the Ontario Rugby Football Union in 1942, a season in which the circuit challenged for the Grey Cup.
He spent the next two seasons with Balmy Beach of the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union, before briefly rejoining the Indians. As Indians coach Lew Hayman saud, “That Pete Titanic, what a sweetheart of an end he’s going to be.”
The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder played both ways. He saw in the Indians the making of a championship squad. “I thought we had a chance for the Grey Cup with the Indians in 1945, but we ran into too many injuries,” he told Paul Patton of the Globe and Mail in 1984. “The guys used to play for almost nothing, but we all had jobs on the side.”
The Indians went 7-1 in 1945, ahead of Balmy Beach (6-2) in the five-team circuit. But the Indians season ended after the Beachers in a two-game, total-points series by 2-1 and 15-0.
Titanic joined the Argos in 1946. Titanic caught two key passes from Joe Krol in the drive to score the decisive touchdown in a 12-6 victory for Toronto in the 1946 IRFU title game against the Alouettes in Montreal.
He helped the Boatmen win the Grey Cup over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in both his rookie and sophomore seasons with the club. Toronto recovered from a 9-0 deficit to win the 1947 classic by 10-9 after Krol kicked the ball through the end zone for a single point as time expired. Titanic called the game the biggest thrill of his career. He was also part of the 1950 championship team, which yet again defeated the Blue Bombers, by 13-0, in a game remembered as the Mud Bowl for the terrible field condition.
In the offseason, Titanic played basketball in a city league and fastball with Toronto Tip Tops and People’s. The Tip Tops won a world championship in 1949, but they had to do so without their regular catcher as Titanic had Argonaut commitments.
After retiring from sport, he worked as a furniture salesman, including a quarter-century as a manager at Leon’s Furniture.
He leaves Margaret, his wife of 64 years. He also leaves two sons, four grandchildren and a great-granddaughter. Both his sons played collegiate hockey — Peter Titanic played for Cornell University, while Paul Titanic played at Bowling Green State University and later coached the University of Toronto varsity team.