DETROIT — On a normal day, most people don’t expect to find a bowling ball sitting on their back step, but one Michigan man found more than 158 beneath his.
David Olson, 33, was demolishing the back steps of his house on the morning of July 1, when he saw a black sphere buried in the sand behind some cinder blocks.
“That was one of the bowling balls. I didn’t think a whole lot of it. I was kind of assuming maybe there were just a couple in there just to fill in. The deeper I got into it the more I realized it was just basically an entire gridwork of them making up the weight in there,” Olson said.
“I was actually a little happy about that because it’s a little easier to roll bowling balls out of the way than to move the sand and figure out where to put all that,” he said.
While Olson’s initial count on Facebook totaled 50 balls, he uncovered more and more. Later,. Olson counted about 120 balls. The final count totaled 158, though Olson said he could feel more balls in the ground. In recent days, Olson discovered two more, bringing the count up to 160.
“There’s definitely more … but at this point in the area I need to work, I’ve dug down about 2 feet lower than when I found my last ball and I think it’s pretty much cleared out in that section,” he said.
When he first discovered the balls, Olson said his thoughts went to his three curious young children. He contacted Brunswick Bowling Products, the maker of the balls and asked whether they could be toxic. After about a day, Olson received a response. Olson sent in pictures, and after running the serial numbers on the balls, the company determined they were made in the 1950s and verified that they were safe and could be disposed of.
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While this cache might be a bowler’s dream, the balls won’t be making their way to the lanes anytime soon. Olson said many of the balls were in rough condition, and each of the balls had two spiral grooves cut into them.
As for the ball’s origins, Olson said there used to be a Brunswick bowling ball plant in Muskegon, Michigan. He said some ex-Brunswick employees contacted him through his Facebook post, and said workers used to take scrapped bowling balls to use as a cheaper alternative to gravel or sand.
Olson said he plans to use the balls as edging for his landscaping or to make sculptures. He also donated eight balls for a nearby church to use in a bowling ball cannon at a pig roast. He will also be giving some to his stepfather, who plans to use them as custom furniture legs.
Follow Kyle Davidson on Twitter @jrndavidson.