In 1935, while the Detroit Tigers were in the midst of earning their first World Series title thanks to one of the best offensive infields in baseball, an Italian-born Parisian car designer met an Italian businessman and changed automotive history.
Giuseppe Figoni apprenticed as a carriage builder at just 14, before leaving to fight in World War I. When he returned to France, he established his own coachbuilding company and experienced mild success building conventionally-designed bodies for Bugatti, Alfa Romeo and Renault. But in 1935 Figoni partnered with Ovideo Falaschi, and Falaschi’s business acumen and financial support facilitated Figoni’s burgeoning creativity.
These were, for reference, examples of contemporary designs produced by Buick, Ford and Plymouth, respectively.
With his partnership with Falaschi, Figoni’s designs became bolder, more graceful and extravagant - in direct opposition to the boxy, carriage-adjacent styles of the time. Their coachbuilding firm was an early adopter of bright and metallic colors, and became famous for partnering with Paris couturiers to present their cars at shows alongside models in similarly hued and styled attire. Falaschi referred to their work as “true couturiers of automotive coachwork, dressing and undressing a chassis one, two, three times and even more before arriving at the definitive line that we wanted to give to a specific chassis-coachwork ensemble.”
The wind was Figoni’s inspiration and his nemesis. The bodies of Figoni et Falaschi drew from the burgeoning aircraft industry, emphasizing aerodynamics but never at the cost of beauty. Their “goutte d’eau” style fenders, in luxuriously sloping teardrop shapes, steep windshields and sleekly flowing tops would become the firm’s signatures.
Figoni et Falaschi doesn’t carry the same historical weight today as coachbuilders like Zagato, Pininfarina or Touring, but their partnership brought the Art Deco movement into the automotive industry, sparking a seismic shift in automotive design and bringing beauty into the world that has sustained for decades. Today, they can sell for millions at auction.
The box score won’t fully show it, since they were playing the 2022 Tigers, but Marco Gonzales did not have his best stuff today. He tossed 86 pitches over six innings, allowing only three runs off of seven hits and walking just one. His lone strikeout came, hilariously, against future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera. On a fastball. At 90 MPH.
An over-reliance on said fastball made for a less than pleasant quality start from Gonzales, who notched another win but struggled again with control. For a pitcher sitting 89-92, on the generous side of things, it’s a real red flag to see this many fastballs thrown in a game. A nagging minor injury? A lingering mechanical issue? Continued challenges with the crackdown on sticky stuff? The box score appears kind, the eye test tonight less so.
It would be naive to assume that because they all play on the same team these Mariners are all friends with each other. But there is a team loyalty, a mutually agreed upon show of support, that is evident in many of the games they’ve played this season. Much like Figoni and Falaschi, to watch this team at their peak is to witness the beauty of a great partnership: The starters keep it tight, the offense powers up, the bullpen shuts the door. For so many years as Seattle Mariners fans we could get only one of those elements - two if we were truly fortunate - but that’s a real difference in the strength of success of this season. Groundbreaking analysis, I know - if baseball teams have good pitching and good hitting, they can actually be pretty, well, good.
Tonight in Detroit was a full team effort. Gonzales escaped six innings with only three runs left on the board, thanks in part to a diving grab by Perry Hill Evangelist Eugenio Suárez in the second and this classic Mitch Haniger gem in the sixth.
Both Detroit and Seattle scattered eight hits on the night, but while the Tigers could only single, the Mariners managed a little of this.
and a nice bit of that.
And tucked in one more insurance run off of a bases loaded walk to score Cal Raleigh in the top of the ninth, which made it easier to breathe in the bottom of the ninth when Paul Sewald revealed a normally-obscured smidgen of mortality by walking two batters before decisively striking out Javier Báez to end the game. Beauty through partnership.