|Frank holding the fake Mickey Mantle baseball in "The Ball"|
|Air Date||December 20, 1996|
|Preceded by||Captain Nemo|
|Followed by||Debra's Sick|
The Ball is the 12th episode of Season 1, and is episode 12 of the full 210 episodes for the entire series. In this episode, Ray finds an old baseball with Mickey Mantle's autograph on it that he remembers from his childhood. But he soon finds out that the autograph is fake and that his father forged it.
- Episode Title: The Ball
- Episode Number: Season 1, Episode 12 (#12 of 210)
- Air Date: December 20, 1996
- Episode description (from DVD): "Ray is hurt when Frank admits that the autographed Mickey Mantle baseball he gave Ray as a child is a fake. Ray swears he'll never lie to his kids. Later, Ally asks if there is a Santa Claus, and Ray struggles to find the right answer."
- Preceded by: "Captain Nemo"
- Followed by: "Debra's Sick"
It's Christmas time and Debra is giving away some old stuff to the needy. One of the items happens to be an old baseball with Mickey Mantle's autograph on it. Ray finds it and remembers when his father, Frank, gave it to him.
When showing it to his father, Frank says that he forged Mickey Mantle's signature and then gave it to Ray. As a child, Ray had had his heart set on getting his autograph, but Frank was never able to get it. So he faked it and gave the ball to Ray. He lied to him and said it was actually Mickey Mantle's signature, when, in fact, it wasn't.
Now, nearly 30 years later, Ray is disappointed that his father lied to him. So he vows to never lie to his own kids. Soon after, Ally walks in and has questions about Santa. Ray is then unsure of what to say. He knows that if he tells Ally the truth, she'll be crushed.
After talking with Frank again, Ray realizes that his father only faked the autograph to make him happy. Ray suddenly has a change of heart. He forgave his father and thanked him for making him a happy kid. Ray then goes and tells Ally everything she wanted to hear about Santa, flying reindeer and all.
This episode marks the earliest time in the series where the characters make mention of Ally, Michael and Geoffrey all being blond when the parents are not. This is mentioned a few different times throughout the series.
Even though the character Linda did not appear in this episode, Debra was talking to her on the phone.
Debra also mentions one of her many ex-boyfriends from before the time she met Ray. The young man's name was Eric Butterman, who Ray mistakenly refers to as "Eric Butterpants".
- Frank: "Holy crap."