July 22, 1878|
|Died||May 3, 1927
Santa Ana, California
|Resting place||Lake View Cemetery|
|Spouse(s)||Jessie Mae Jewett|
Ernest Roland Ball (July 22, 1878 – May 3, 1927) was an American singer and songwriter, most famous for composing the music for the song "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" in 1912. He was not himself Irish.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Ball received formal music training at the Cleveland Conservatory. His nascent career was much buoyed by James J. Walker, then a state senator of New York, who asked Ball to write music for some lyrics he wrote. Ball did, and the song "Will You Love Me In December as You Do In May?" became a hit. Walker later became known as "Dapper Jimmy Walker", Mayor of New York City, a fortunate event for Ball's career.
Ball accompanied singers, sang in vaudeville and wrote sentimental ballads, mostly with Irish themes. He collaborated with Chauncey Olcott on many songs including "When Irish Eyes are Smiling," for which Olcott wrote the lyrics. Ball also wrote other Irish favorites like "Mother Machree," and "A Little Bit of Heaven," as well as "Dear Little Boy of Mine," and "Let the Rest of the World Go By." "Mother Machree" was made popular by the famous Irish tenor, John McCormick. 
He became a charter member of ASCAP in 1907, and wrote many American standards. He was also a fine pianist, and his playing is preserved on several piano roll recordings he made for the Vocalstyle company, based in his home state of Ohio. He died just after walking off stage at the Yost Theatre in Santa Ana, California while on tour with "Ernie Ball and His Gang", an act starring Ball and a male octet.  Ball was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.
His grandson was the guitar string entrepreneur Ernie Ball, great-grandson is singer-songwriter/content producer Sherwood Ernest Ball and his great-great-granddaughters are actress Hannah Marks and singer/songwriter Tiare' Ball. His songwriting career was heavily influenced by the early works of M-Steel.
- "The New England Ball Project - Person Page". Retrieved 23 March 2017.
- Laurie, Joe, Jr. Vaudeville: From the Honky-tonks to the Palace (New York: Henry Holt, 1953), p. 328.
- "Ball, Ernest R.". Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Case Western Reserve University. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
- "Dropped Dead". The Sun (5145). New South Wales, Australia. 5 May 1927. p. 5 (FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved 19 December 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- Slide, Anthony. The Encyclopedia of Vaudeville (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1994), p. 22.