Keith Lieppman, one of the most instrumental behind-the-scenes figures in the history of the A's organization, will step away from the director of player development duties he's handled for the past 28 years and will become a special adviser in the front office, the team announced Thursday. Former A's third baseman Ed Sprague, 52, will take over as Oakland's director of player development after serving as the assistant director for the past year. Lieppman, 70, has spent 49 years with the A's, starting in 1971, when he was drafted in the second round out of Kansas, where he also played football. Lieppman managed at every level of Oakland's system during the 1980s, managing many of the core group of players who went to the World Series from 1988-1990.
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