A native of Barberton, Tabaka excelled in baseball, football and basketball at Copley High School. As a senior at Kent State in 1986, he recorded a then-team record eight saves en route to earning third-team All-America honors and a spot on the All-District IV first team. For his career, Tabaka posted a 10-6 record, eight saves and 79 strikeouts in 74.1 innings pitched. In addition, at the plate he compiled a .350 batting average with 14 home runs, 84 runs batted in and 20 doubles. Drafted by Montreal Expos in the second round of the 1986 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. Went on to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, Houston Astros and Cincinnati Reds during his six-year major league career. He appeared in 139 games, recording a 6-5 record with 119 strikeouts and a 4.31 ERA.