|Born: April 13, 1866|
|Died: September 16, 1909 (aged 43)|
|April 17, 1889, for the Kansas City Cowboys|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 13, 1904, for the Philadelphia Phillies|
|Runs batted in||1,055|
|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 record for career errors.
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.
Long played for the Kansas City Cowboys (1889), Boston Beaneaters (1890–1902), New York Highlanders (1903), Detroit Tigers (1903), and Philadelphia Phillies (1904). Between 1904 and 1906, Long was a player and player-manager in minor league baseball.
Long holds the major league record for most errors in a career (1,096). Only three other players have made more than 1,000 errors in their careers: Bill Dahlen, Deacon White, and Germany Smith. 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).
Of the three other players charged with over 1,000 lifetime errors, Deacon White is in Baseball's Hall of Fame, and Bill Dahlen is perennially considered for enshrinement by MLB's Veteran's Committee.
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." 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."
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. He died of tuberculosis the next month in Denver.