Long and Lowe

Bobby Lowe (left), Herman Long (right) with Fred Tenney (standing) and Jimmy Collins (seated center)

Some things just go together. Take pepperoni and pizza. Try bacon and eggs. Think Big and Mac.

Baseball’s like that too. Some things just go together. Jeter and Cano, Groat and Mazeroski, Tinker and Evers. See, don’t you just sort of think of one when you think of the other? Way back in the 1890’s there was another of those: Herman Long and Bobby Lowe.

Herman Long was a shortstop for Kansas City in 1889. He moved to the Boston Beaneaters in 1890, staying through 1902. After leaving Boston played for short stints with the Highlanders (Yankees), Tigers, and Phillies. Today he’s primarily famous for making more errors than anyone else in Major League history, 1096. Of course if you play for 17 years mostly in Nineteenth Century ballparks with Nineteenth Century equipment, you have to be pretty good to stay around long enough to make a thousand plus errors. His fielding percentage was .906, which isn’t all that good, with 765 double plays, which is terrific for the era. His range factor is 5.77 which is darned good in any era. He could hit a little too. He averaged .277, with an OBP of .335 and a slugging percentage of .338, giving him a .718 OPS. He scored 1456 runs, knocked in 1055, and had 2938 total bases. In 1900 he won the National League home run title with 12 and in 1893 led the NL in runs with 149. He died of tuberculosis in 1909.

Most of his doubles plays were in partnership with Bobby Lowe. Lowe came to Boston in 1890 and stayed through 1901. He then played for a short stint with the Cubs in 1902 and 1903, then went to both Pittsburgh and Detroit before retiring. Unlike Long he was one of the better fielders of his day. He managed a .951 fielding percentage, a 5.70 range factor, and only 389 errors (he was a second baseman, remember). He hit .273 for his career with an OBP of .325, a slugging percentage of .360, and an OPS of .685. He was a superior leadoff hitter for the era scoring 1135 runs on 1924 hits. He lived to age 86, dying in 1951.

What the two men did well together was win. Both men arrived in Boston in 1890, Long becoming an immediate starter. The Beaneaters finished fifth, 12 games back. Over the next 10 years, with both men starting up the middle, Boston took five pennants. They won in 1891 and to be honest, having Harry Stovey in right field and both John Clarkson and Kid Nichols on the mound helped Boston a lot, but both Long and Lowe were significant contributors to the improvement. The 1892 season saw a split season (the last until 1981) with Boston winning the first half, then beating up on Cleveland in the end of season pennant series. Neither Long nor Lowe did very well in the series. In fact to be honest about again, both did terribly.

Boston won again in 1893, slipped to third in 1894, and all the way to fifth in 1895. By 1896, they were back to fourth, then in both 1897 and 1898 won the NL title again. In 1899 they slipped back to second behind syndicate team Brooklyn (the owner of Brooklyn also owned Baltimore and cannibalized the two teams to put together one very good team.) In 1900 and 1901, their last two years together, an aging Long and Lowe finished fourth and fifth. But in 12 years together, 11 with both starting, they had, as mentioned earlier, managed to win five pennants. Thy also finished second once.

Neither man is much remembered today, neither is in much danger of making the Hall of Fame and thus returning to prominence. Both were major contributors to five pennant winners and good players in their own right. One really nice thing about the internet it that it gives people like me a chance to remind people like you about these kinds of players and how important they were to the game we love.

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One Response to “Long and Lowe”

  1. William Miller Says:

    Other favorites: Peanut Butter and Jelly, Laurel and Hardy, Macaroni and Cheese, Napoleon and Bonaparte, Katrina and the Waves, the Green Hornet and Cato, Trammel and Whitaker. You’re right, I see a pattern here. Good one, Bill

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