HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Sunday's game between the Astros and Oakland Athletics was about much more than just division rivals playing on the diamond.
Back on July 8th, ABC13 was the only local news outlet to report live from Uvalde as an Astros contingent visited the grieving Texas town just six weeks after the deadliest school shooting in our state's history. The team's vow to that community: help it heal through the game of baseball.
Sunday's game was part two of that promise.
More than 3,000 residents from Uvalde, including families of the victims from Robb Elementary, were hosted by the Astros on Uvalde Strong Day.
Javier Cazarez lost his nine year-old daughter, Jacklyn, inside Robb Elementary on May 24th.
"It's an emotional roller coaster," Javier said. "We have our good and bad days, and try to make the best of every day. We don't move on, but move forward as best we can."
Astros owner Jim Crane and his team sent a message to Uvalde: As that town moves forward, it will have a helping hand from Houston.
"We all can relate to the tough time they've been through, so this is a little distraction and give a little something back," Crane said. "This is what the Astros are about."
After being transported from Uvalde early Sunday, the Astros treated victims' families and Robb Elementary staff members to a unique game day experience. Following Jose Altuve's message to the group, ABC13 was there for a special meeting between a Uvalde family and the Astros star second baseman.
"From the first time she saw Altuve play, she was just attracted to his playing and his mannerisms and the way he held himself," Veronica Mata said of her daughter Tess. "So, it was good to finally meet him."
Tess Mata, a 10-year-old victim from Robb Elementary, was a huge Astros fan and was an even bigger fan of the second baseman. The family shared information with Jose and he shared an autograph with them on a pillow made from an Altuve shirt Tess wore often.
"When we bought the shirt, they embroidered his signature on there," Veronica pointed out. "To now actually have his signature on there, it just means so much more now."
"I feel like I just gave a little time and smile to them today, and they really needed it," Altuve said.
In fact, Houston-based artist Anat Ronen recently painted a mural of Tess on Main Street in Uvalde. The mural features both Altuve and the Astros lovable mascot, Orbit.
"If Tess would've been able to design that mural, that's exactly how she would've done it," Faith Mata, Tess's older sister, said before throwing the ceremonial first pitch. "It's perfect. If you want to know what Tess was like, go look at the mural."
"I go and take out my fold-out chair and stare at it whenever I want," Tess's father, Jerry, said of his late daughter's mural in their hometown. "I pass by on Main and see it every day. She's smiling and I know she's smiling at me."
Smiles can be tough to come by for the Uvalde community. So if the Astros can provide any smiles at all, that's a win, regardless of the final score.