An imposing slugger when healthy, Jaha’s left foot was his Achilles heel. During his seven seasons in Milwaukee, he showed flashes of prodigious power but made four trips to the disabled list. Eventually cut loose by the Brewers, he fought back to turn in a fine season with Oakland in 1999, but fell victim to injury once again and retired two years later.
Playing for Triple-A Denver in 1992, Jaha became only the second player (after Joey Meyer) to hit a ball into the upper deck at Mile-High Stadium. He was called up by the Brewers soon afterward, making his major-league debut at the ago of 26, and hit .264 with 19 homers and 70 RBIs as Milwaukee’s full-time first baseman in 1993. But except for a great season in 1996, when he hit .300 with 34 homers and 118 RBIs, he was obviously hobbled.
After another injury-plagued campaign in 1998, Jaha was forced to undergo surgery on his troublesome foot and was let go by the Brewers, who no longer needed a DH after moving to the National League. He tried out for the Red Sox, but flunked his physical. Instead, Jaha inked a minor-league deal with Oakland.
Although Jaha wasn’t expected to make the team — in fact, he was left out of the team’s media guide that spring — he turned in a remarkable comeback season. Earning his first All-Star berth along the way, he finished the year with 35 homers (tying Dave Kingman for most by an Oakland DH) and 111 RBIs and was named the AL Comeback Player of the Year.
It was his last productive season. Jaha played in just 33 games in 2000, and even fewer the following year. An enormously popular figure in the Oakland clubhouse, he drew a standing ovation from his A’s teammates when he finally announced his retirement on June 30, 2001. “I ran out of gas,” he told reporters. “My body finally had all it could take, and it came to the point where I couldn’t help the team.”