In large bowl, beat sugar and shortening with electric mixer on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until well blended. Beat in milk, vanilla and eggs. On low speed, beat in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, scraping bowl occasionally, until dough forms. Stir in pecans, dates and 1/3 cup chopped cherries. If necessary, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate minutes for easier handling.
Heat oven to 375°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into cereal coat thoroughly. Shape into balls. Place inches apart on cookie sheets. Lightly press maraschino cherry quarter into top of each ball.
Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool minute remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.
Tip: chop the maraschino cherries, then drain them on paper towels to eliminate excess moisture.