Engine Ball is a magazine story.
One sunny afternoon, Thomas puffs past the beach on his way to Tidmouth. He sees some people playing a strange game that his driver calls "volleyball". Thomas' wishes he could join in the fun. Thomas is about to move away when one of the players hits the ball too hard. The ball flies through the air and lands on Thomas' funnel. The ball is stuck so Thomas blows a big wheesh of steam and the ball flies up into the air, towards the main line.
Meanwhile, James is steaming happily along the main line when suddenly, the ball lands in his funnel. James blows the ball out with an almighty puff and sends it flying towards the Sodor China Clay Company. Suddenly, the ball falls onto Bill's funnel. Before the ball can be blown anywhere else, the Fat Controller arrives and confiscates it. Thomas really enjoyed the funny game and asks the Fat Controller if they can play it again after work.
That evening, a net is set up in front of the engine sheds. Thomas and Bill make up one team and Ben and James make up the other. The Fat Controller blows a whistle to start the match. The ball flies through the air from one engine's funnel to the other. Thomas thinks they should call their exciting new game "Engine Ball".