The Obit For Bill Merrill

William "Bill" Thomas Merrill: Voice of Texas Rangers from 1974 to '81


By JOE SIMNACHER / The Dallas Morning News

William "Bill" Thomas Merrill wanted to be a big-league ballplayer. He got as far as a tryout with the St. Louis Cardinals before his dream was derailed by military service in World War II.

However, he did live a baseball life in the major leagues as the voice of the Texas Rangers from 1974 to 1981.

Mr. Merrill, 79, died Saturday of complications of diabetes.

Services will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Grace Covenant Church, 3402 Interstate 20 West in Arlington. He will be buried in Moore Memorial Gardens in Arlington.

Mr. Merrill, born in Marshall, Texas, wasn't very big, but his strong arm in high school gave him potential as a shortstop and pitcher, said his son, Bill Merrill Jr. of Arlington.

The New York Yankees offered Mr. Merrill's brother, Kenneth Merrill of Norman, Okla., a contract, but he opted for an academic life as a college professor.

About the time that Bill Merrill was to try out with the Cardinals, he joined the Army during World War II.

When he returned to Texas in 1946, he married and started a family. He worked his way through college broadcasting sports, earning a bachelor's degree in psychology from East Texas Baptist College.

He covered sports for East Texas radio stations as well as in Duncan, Okla., and both sides of the Red River in Lawton, Okla., and Wichita Falls, Texas.

In 1966, Mr. Merrill returned to Marshall. Six years later, he moved to Arlington. In 1974, he became a play-by-play announcer and color commentator for the Rangers.

He quit in 1981, when he grew tired of the rigors of traveling with the team.

He did enjoy interviewing major-league players, especially during old-timers promotions, when he met many of the greats of the game, his son said.

"With rare exceptions, they were all to down-to-earth people," he said.

In 1981, Mr. Merrill went to work for the city of Arlington, where he established local access programming for cable television. He retired in 1992.

In addition to his son and brother, Mr. Merrill is survived by his wife, Margaret Merrill of Arlington; two daughters, Diane Shade and Debbie Merrill, both of Arlington; another son, Mark Merrill of Arlington; two sisters, Bobbie Neighbors of Oklahoma City and Sue Merrill of Marshall; and two grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to the American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 2680, North Canton, Ohio 44720, or Grace Covenant Church, 3402 Interstate 20 West, Arlington, Texas 76017.