“In the beginning, Havemeyer looked to have a fight on his hands, his rod bent double as the prize rapidly took out the line. An experienced and effective angler is a patient one, however, and Havemeyer, a few minutes into the contest, pulled taut and began to to regain line. By about six minutes into the struggle, the Sugar Baron was making slow but steady progress, the reeling in of his prize moving with measured certainty, his rod finally lifting its head from its bowed position, forced genuflection replaced with arched effort.
He pulled against the considerable weight at the end of the line, before finally, after ten minutes of epic contest, his foe emerged from the sea sans fins and gills, its flippers replaced by strikingly pale limbs ending in strangely ineffective paddles, all crowned by a curious and handsome head of hair, a man, a man on the end of the line, on the bottom of the boat, at the Sugar Baron’s feet!
The man was none other than Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, scion of the Belmont banking family, as in the Stakes, who kept his horse’s stables on the ground floor of his mansion Belcourt, bedding them on white linen embroidered with the family crest. An American playboy—handsome New World Royalty—landed off the coast of Bailey’s Beach like a marlin!”
Read the rest of my article about Gilded Age sports excess at VICE Sports