If Pete Rose of the Reds wins the National League batting title and/or finishes the season with 200 hits, chalk up another victory for not-so-modern medical science. When Rose broke his left thumb while trying to make a diving catch on July 5, his chances of achieving cither goal seemed almost nil. Three weeks later, however, Rose reported to Christ Hospital in Cincinnati. There, under the watchful eye of Team Physician Dr. George Ballou, Rose took part in a scene of the sort that was supposed to have died with those pre-op paintings of Great Moments in Medicine. Rose began pounding the hospital wall with his baseball bat. "He told me to hit the wall with the bat to see if it would hurt my thumb," Rose explains. The walls, fortunately, did not come tumbling down. Neither, also fortunately, did Rose's thumb come tumbling off. In fact, the thumb did not even hurt on impact, and Dr. Ballou permitted Rose to return to the lineup five games earlier than had been anticipated. During those five games he had a total of eight hits, and they may well prove to be the difference for Rose in achieving his goal of 200 hits for the third time in the past four years. He now has hit safely 163 times. With 36 games left to be played, he needs only slightly more than one hit a game the rest of the way. Even more impressive has been his .383 batting average since returning to play a month ago, a spree that has moved him up from .329 to .345. When he was injured, Rose was trailing Matty Alou of the Pirates in the batting race by eight points. Now he leads Alou, as well as everyone else in the majors, by seven points. Charlie Hustle is making big-league batting look almost respectable again.