Although plagued by injuries throughout his career, Roach compiled an impressive record of athletic accomplishments spanning high school, college and professional play. A native of Richmond, he starred in football, baseball and basketball at John Marshall High School. From 1947-51, Roach captained all three teams. He was an All-City forward in basketball, All-Southern quarterback, and as an All-Southern first baseman he led the American Legion team to the 1950 National Finals. He was the CityÕs high scorer in basketball and won the Outstanding Athlete of the Year honors.
At the University of Virginia, Roach was a quarterback and place-kicker on the team that amassed a 16-3 record during the 1951-52 season. He shares the University of Virginia season record of 37 extra points. On the Cavaliers basketball team, Roach averaged 10 points per game. Leading the state as a UVA powerhouse slugger, Roach focused on baseball when a shoulder injury slowed him down on the gridiron.
After only two years at the University, Roach signed on as a bonus player with MilwaukeeÕs major league baseball team the Braves. A knee injury cut the 1958 season with the Braves short, which saw Roach with a batting average of .309 and fielding .980. Having been told by doctors that he would never run again, Roach returned to play in 19 games of the 1959 season and hit .356 as a pinch-hitter in 1960. Later in 1960, Roach was traded to the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs sent him to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1962.
Frustrated by the frequency of trades and the nagging injuries, Roach elected to retire from baseball.