Herman Long
Long in 1903
Born: (1866-04-13)April 13, 1866
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died: September 16, 1909(1909-09-16) (aged 43)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Batted: Left
Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 17, 1889, for the Kansas City Cowboys
Last MLB appearance
July 13, 1904, for the Philadelphia Phillies
MLB statistics
Batting average.277
Home runs91
Runs batted in1,055
Stolen bases537
Career highlights and awards

Herman C. Long (April 13, 1866 – September 16, 1909) was an American shortstop in Major League Baseball (MLB) who played for the Kansas City Cowboys, Boston Beaneaters, New York Highlanders, Detroit Tigers, and Philadelphia Phillies. Long was known for his great fielding range as a shortstop, but he also holds the MLB career record for errors.

Early life

Born in 1866, Long was a native of Chicago. His parents are thought to have been German immigrants, as Long spoke fluent German. Little else is known about Long's life up until he began playing minor league baseball in 1887 for a team in Arkansas City, Kansas. He played in Kansas City in 1888. After that season, the Kansas City team merged with the major league team in the same city.[1]

Major League Baseball career

Long played for the Kansas City Cowboys (1889), Boston Beaneaters (1890–1902), New York Highlanders (1903), Detroit Tigers (1903), and Philadelphia Phillies (1904). From 1889 to 1902, he played over 100 games every year, had a batting average over .300 four times, and had an OPS+ over 100 seven times. He led the NL in runs scored in 1893 with 149, and he led the NL in home runs in 1900 with 12.[2] Long helped the Beaneaters win National League championships in 1891, 1892, 1893, 1897, and 1898. During his time with the Beaneaters, he played in the infield along with first baseman Fred Tenney, second baseman Bobby Lowe, and third baseman Jimmy Collins; some considered that to be the greatest infield in baseball history. Between 1904 and 1906, Long was a player and player-manager in minor league baseball.

Long twice hit for the cycle, in 1896 and 1900, to become the first player in the Braves franchise to accomplish the feat. It was not duplicated for 121 years, until Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman hit his second cycle during the 2021 season.[3][a]

Tim Murnane, a former player-turned-baseball writer, wrote in 1894, "Long is the most brilliant ball player on the field at the present time."[4] In 1903, future Hall of Fame pitcher Kid Nichols said of Long, "Herman Long is the greatest shortstop of them all. You can speak of your [Hughie] Jennings, and write of your [Jack] Glasscocks all you want, but this man Long at his best had them beat by a city block. Jennings was a brilliant ball player, and without doubt one of the leading players of the age, but this talk of his being better than Herman Long is all rot."[4]

In the 2001 book The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, writer Bill James ranked Long as the 34th greatest shortstop of all-time.[5]


Long holds the major league record for most errors in a career (1,096).[6] Only three other players have made more than 1,000 errors in their careers: Bill Dahlen, Deacon White, and Germany Smith. White is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.[7] Long's total includes a record 1,070 errors committed while playing shortstop. Despite the errors, Long actually fielded slightly better than the league average for a shortstop during his career, and he was considered an excellent fielder by his contemporaries.

The seeming contradiction between a high error rate and exceptional fielding skill is attributable to the fact that Long had a greater fielding range than most shortstops. He could get to balls batted to his left and right that other fielders would not have reached; a certain percentage of these difficult plays were mishandled, resulting in Long being charged with errors on grounders and flies that lesser shortstops would not have touched (and on which they would not be charged with errors).

There was also another major factor which contributed to Long's relatively large total of career errors: the comparative abundance of errors during gameplay in 19th century professional baseball. In a typical game played in the 1800s, each team committed about ten errors (for a one-game combined total of about 20).[8]


In August 1909, The New York Times reported that Long was very sick. Several months earlier, he had moved to Denver, Colorado, because he was suffering from a lung condition.[9] He died of tuberculosis the next month in Denver.

See also


  1. ^ Despite limited game logs during the 1900 season, research by the Elias Sports Bureau has verified an uncredited cycle to Herman Long.


  1. ^ Overfield, Joseph M.; Adomites, Paul; Puff, Richard; Davids, L. Robert (2012). Nineteenth Century Stars: 2012 Edition. Society for American Baseball Research. p. 163. ISBN 9781933599298. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  2. ^ "Herman Long Stats". baseball-reference.com. Retrieved November 4, 2021.
  3. ^ ESPN News Services (August 18, 2021). "Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman hits for second career cycle". ESPN. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  4. ^ a b Pages from Baseball's Past (subscription newsletter), by Craig R. Wright, January 20, 2014
  5. ^ James, Bill (2001). The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. p. 614.
  6. ^ Historical Player Stats | MLB.com: Stats at mlb.mlb.com
  7. ^ "Deacon White". Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  8. ^ Schwarz, Alan (21 July 2004). The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination with Statistics (illustrated ed.). New York, New York, USA: Macmillan (St Martin's Press). p. 9. ISBN 0-312-32222-4.
  9. ^ "Herman Long seriously ill". The New York Times. August 8, 1909. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
Achievements Preceded byEd Cartwright Hitting for the cycle May 9, 1896 Succeeded byBill Joyce