Merriman was a war hero, an All-American, and a college graduate at a time when most athletes disdained academic life. In between his WWII hitch in the Marines and his aerial dogfights in Mig Alley during the height of the Korean War, Merriman was an All-American fullback for Stanford in 1946. His gridiron heroics earned him an invitation to the Chicago Bears training camp, but he opted to finish his schooling. In 1948 the Cincinnati Reds paid him a large bonus, and he joined the parent club a year later. He had four seasons of part-time duty for Cincinnati before being sold to the White Sox and then the Cubs in 1955. Merriman had twelve outfield put-outs against the Cubs on September 7, 1951, his career highlight.