HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) — Sunday’s game between the Astros and Oakland Athletics was about much more than rivals playing on the diamond.
Back on July 8, ABC13 was the only local news outlet reporting live from Uvalde as a contingent of Astros visited the grieving Texas town just six weeks after the deadliest shooting spree in our state’s history. The team’s pledge to this community: Help them heal through the game of baseball.
Sunday’s game was part two of that promise.
More than 3,000 Uvalde residents, including families of Robb Elementary victims, were hosted by the Astros on Uvalde Strong Day.
SEE ALSO: The Houston Astros visit Uvalde to celebrate the community after filming
Javier Cazarez lost his nine-year-old daughter, Jacklyn, on May 24 at Robb Elementary.
“It’s an emotional rollercoaster ride,” Javier said. “We have our good days and bad days and we try to make the best of each day. We don’t continue, we just do the best we can.”
Astros owner Jim Crane and his team sent a message to Uvalde: As this city moves forward, it will have a helping hand from Houston.
“We can all relate to the rough times they’ve been through, so this is a little distraction and gives back,” Crane said. “That’s what the Astros are about.”
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After being transported from Uvalde early Sunday, the Astros treated the victims’ families and Robb Elementary staff to a unique game day experience. Following Jose Altuve’s message to the group, ABC13 was there for a special reunion between a Uvalde family and the Astros star’s second baseman.
“When she first saw Altuve play, she was just drawn to his game and his mannerisms and his demeanor,” Veronica Mata said of her daughter Tess. “So it was good to finally meet him.”
Tess Mata, a 10-year victim of Robb Elementary, was a huge Astros fan and an even bigger fan of the second baseman. The family shared information with Jose and he shared them an autograph on a pillow made from an Altuve shirt that Tess often wore.
“When we bought the shirt, they embroidered his signature on it,” Veronica pointed out. “Now actually having his signature there, it just means so much more now.”
“I feel like I just gave them a little time and a smile 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 lovable Astros mascot, Orbit.
“If Tess had been able to design this mural, she would have done exactly that,” said Faith Mata, Tess’ older sister, before throwing the ceremonial first toss. “It’s perfect. If you want to know what Tess was like, look at the mural.”
“I take out my folding chair and stare at it whenever I want to,” Jerry, Tess’ father, said of his late daughter’s mural in her hometown. “I pass by the Main and see it every day. She’s smiling and I know she’s smiling at me.”
Smiles can be hard to come by for the Uvalde community. So if the Astros can make anyone smile at all, it’s a win regardless of the bottom line.
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https://abc13.com/houston-astros-uvalde-robb-elementary-shooting-uvalde-strong-day/12125424/ “Uvalde Strong Day”: Houston Astros hosts 3,000 city residents still mourning the Robb Elementary shooting