As of June 2009[update], Long holds the Major League record for most errors in a career, with 1,096 errors made over his seventeen-year career. Only three other players have made more than 1,000 errors in their careers: Bill Dahlen, Deacon White, and Germany Smith. This 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). 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.